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Integrating the environment into aerial transport
The Commission evaluates ways of improving the environmental performance of activities linked to air transport in order to offset the environmental impact of growth in this sector.
Communication from the Commission of 1 December 1998 to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Air Transport and the Environment [COM(1999) 640 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
Globally, air transport contributes to the greenhouse effect and to the depletion of the ozone layer. Regionally, it contributes to acidification, ozone formation and eutrophication. Locally, in the vicinity of airports, air transport is partly the cause of noise and air pollution.
This communication sets out the strategy the European Union is to pursue to put in place a coherent and environmentally friendly policy in the field of air transport.
The pillars of the strategy
The first pillar of the strategy proposed in the communication is the improvement of technical environmental standards on noise and gaseous emissions. One example of practical action is the improvement of air traffic management systems, which should allow a major saving in fuel consumption.
The communication also proposes the introduction of economic and regulatory market incentives to enhance the competitive edge of operators and users which choose to use state-of-the-art technologies and environmentally friendly operations. The Commission will work to integrate environmental costs into charging systems and to improve the infrastructure at intermodal connecting points so that users and operators can actually choose more environmentally friendly services.
Another pillar indicated in the communication is environmental protection measures to be applied in airports. Under this pillar of the Community strategy, various action is proposed to assist airports, limit noise and link airports to other modes of transport.
The communication emphasises the need to encourage research and innovation relating to the environmental performance of aircraft, including assessment of the atmospheric effect of aircraft exhaust gas emissions. A long-term strategy of this nature is essential.
The communication invites the air transport industry to sign voluntary environmental agreements and to register under the EMAS scheme.
The Commission underlines the importance of adopting international solutions within the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
For further information, please consult the website of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Energy and Transport.