Copenhagen tackles airline emissions

People pose and photograph the COP15 Copenhagen logo at the entrance to the Bella Centre

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Bill Radke: This morning's WSJ reports U.S. airlines are recovering nicely -- fuller planes, fewer discounted fares, lower fuel prices and they're charging you for stuff you used to get for free. Today,
the aviation industry is in for some scrutiny in Copenhagen, Demark, on day two of the U.N.'s climate change conference. Marketplace's Stephen Beard is there, he joins us live -- good morning Stephen.

Stephen Beard: Hello, Bill.

Radke: Stephen, how much does air travel contribute to carbon pollution?

Beard: Not much at the moment. Airlines are reckoned to cause only 2 [percent] to 3 percent of global carbon emissions. But they are the fastest-growing source of emissions, and some estimates suggest that if nothing is done about that, aviation could account for half of all global emissions by the middle of this century.

Radke: And how much pressure is the industry facing in Copenhagen to cut its carbon emissions?

Beard: Well, quite a bit, but this is a sensitive issue. Aviation is widely regarded as a major engine of economic development, so developing countries don't want to see their own airlines hobbled with a lot of extra costs. So it is possible that this issue won't be resolved in Copenhagen, and it will be put on the backburner.

Radke: And if that's true, would that let the airline industry off the hook?

Beard: Well, not entirely, no. The industry knows in its bones that one way or another, emissions curbs are coming. And they'd much prefer to have a global approach, a system run perhaps by the U.N. body that supervises aviation, so that every airline is operating by the same level playing field -- a global cap and trade system, for example. They would like a global, level playing field. That's what they'd like to see coming out of Copenhagen.

Radke: Marketplace's Stephen Beard, live in Copenhagen, Denmark. Stephen, thank you.

Beard: OK, Bill.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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