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Green groups back moves to cut plane emission -

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PETER CAVE: Environment groups have welcomed a move by the airline industry to cut greenhouse gas
emissions, saying it's long overdue.

A group of airlines is calling for a separate emissions cap to cover the entire aviation industry
rather than a host of national targets.

Airlines say this will be more simple and fairer than the various limits and taxes on international
flights that are already springing up around the world.

But green groups warn the targets will have to be tough enough to ensure that there's a benefit to
the environment.

Jennifer Macey reports.

JENNIFER MACEY: The carbon offsetting company Climate Friendly estimates that one return trip
between Sydney and London produces about 10 tonnes of CO2 per person.

That's about the same as the average Australian produces from the combined use of a car and
electricity in one year.

But it's not just burning jet fuel that creates a global warming effect, as Peter Lockley from WWF
International explains.

PETER LOCKLEY: Aviation that's CO2, and that's about 2 to 3 per cent of the global CO2, but it also
has other warming impacts on the climate, partly from some of the other gases that come out of the
exhaust, and partly from contrails - the white vapour trails that you see in the sky.

So its contribution to global warming is more than that - it's about 5 per cent. But the really
alarming thing is the rate at which it's growing.

JENNIFER MACEY: Peter Lockley is currently in Bonn where delegates at the UN climate meeting are
drafting a new treaty to be nutted out in Copenhagen later this year.

Now a group of airlines wants the new Copenhagen deal to include a separate target for aviation.

Virgin Blue is the only Australian carrier to join British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Air France
among others as part of the Aviation Global Deal Group.

Virgin Blue's environment manager David White says they're putting forward three targets, ranging
from a cap on emissions from 2005 levels to a 20 per cent cut by 2020.

DAVID WHITE: The idea is to put a price on carbon. At the end of the day, until you do that,
there's no incentive to actually reduce. And the idea with a cap and trade is you reduce the amount
of permits that are available and therefore drive up the price of the permits themselves. So
there's an even higher incentive to reduce your emissions.

JENNIFER MACEY: How do planes actually reduce emissions?

DAVID WHITE: We're looking at things such as reducing weight, improving the technologies we use.
Air traffic management's a big one too - how do you fly the aircraft so it's the most efficient
path?

In the longer term, we're looking at alternative fuels.

JENNIFER MACEY: The airlines argue that this approach would be easier to adhere to than the current
patchwork of systems being imposed by different countries or regions.

For example, the European Union wants to include aviation in its emissions trading system within
three years.

Rupert Posner the Australian director of the Climate Group welcomes the move.

RUPERT POSNER: They wanted to demonstrate leadership. They wanted to say to the world and the other
players involved that we're some of the leading airlines in the world, we reckon aviation should be
included in a global agreement to address climate change.

JENNIFER MACEY: How likely is it though that negotiators at Copenhagen will agree to a sectoral
target, a target for one industry, when some countries are already dragging their heels in terms of
taking on tougher targets?

RUPERT POSNER: Well, we're certainly seeing a growing momentum as we head towards Copenhagen.

One of the interesting things about this proposal is it's suggesting that aviation be considered
effectively as its own country. This is a fair and equitable right way to ensure that we cover all
aviation emissions, wherever they occur.

JENNIFER MACEY: WWF's Peter Lockley says while the proposal is a good step, he questions the use of
buying offsets to reduce emissions.

PETER LOCKLEY: We're worried that, well, at the moment, we don't have an overall global cap on
emissions.

And some of the credits that the airlines would be buying are not very tightly controlled and we've
got concerns about legitimacy of some of the projects that are being used to offset emissions.

So it's a good proposal, it's a good start, but it's not the absolute answer for aviation.

JENNIFER MACEY: Domestic airlines such as Rex say they're already cutting emissions by reducing the
amount of cargo they take. And in a statement, Qantas says it's been consulting with all relevant
government and international bodies regarding the impact of any emissions trading system on
aviation.

PETER CAVE: Jennifer Macey with that report.