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July 4, 2006 5:59 PM

Airports may be heaving with holidaymakers but West Midlands MEP Liz Lynne today warned that the accelerating growth in air travel threatens to undermine Europe's attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Euro MP today backed the European Parliament's call for urgent action to be taken to force airline operators to pay towards the carbon dioxide emissions their planes emit.

MEPs want the European Commission to set up a new emissions trading scheme specifically for the aviation sector. Inclusion within the existing scheme, they argue, would increase the costs of industry while effectively subsidising holiday travel.

Air transport contributes just 4% of current CO2 emissions but the volume has grown by 85% since 1990. There are also fears that emissions from aircraft at great height may affect cloud formation in the stratosphere, magnifying the global warming effects.

Liz Lynne MEP, described the growth in cheap air travel as an EU success story that risked damaging consequences:

"By breaking up national airline monopolies we have created great opportunities for the comfortably-off to travel, but the rate of growth threatens to wipe out all the CO2 savings made elsewhere. One major UK operator has reported that they expect a 60% growth in passenger numbers over the next six years alone."

"We don't want to stop air travel. We simply want to ensure that its growth is not at the expense of future generations and the poor across the world.

"Our message is that airline operations can continue to expand, but only as fast as improvements in technology and better operating practices permit. Total carbon dioxide emissions must increase no further."

The measures being proposed by MEPs would be expected to increase average flight costs by less than £10 but would reward operators who invested in the most up to date technology.