The majority of coverage of the EU’s decision to apporve an open skies deal between Europe and the US has been on the apparent negative impact it could have on the likes of British Airways and Virgin.

There has also been plenty of comments about how it will lead to cheaper trans-Atlantic flights and a better deal for passengers.

It has taken a few days, but now the other significant impact of the deal has been aired by environmentalists.

The big question is whether open skies is compatible with the moves to combat climate change?

At a time when the politicians have jumped on board the environmental bandwagon – calling on us all to consider what kind of carbon footprint we’re leaving on the planet and urging us to find alternatives to domestic and short-haul flights – a deal that effectively paves the way for increased flights is surely at odds with this desire to curb our enthusiasm for air travel.

Emily Armistead, of Greenpeace, said open skies “clearly goes completely against what the European Union is trying to do to tackle climate change”. She also claimed it was “outrageous” that a deal that could lead to an additional 25 million passengers flying between Europe and the US over the next five years had been agreed just weeks after EU leaders pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020.

The deal shows that both politicians and the business world are still struggling to comprehend what climate change is and the kind of impact we’re having on the planet.

Agreeing to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 but then rubber-stamping the open skies agreement at the very least smacks of muddled thinking.

The “binge flying culture” that Greenpeace predicts this deal will bring about is a useful soundbite description. But the EU has ensured it will also become a reality.

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One response »

  1. Dan says:

    The open skies deal isn’t a climate change issue. It’s about removing favouritist agreements between the UK and the US (which were actually illegal under EU competition law). If we want to limit air traffic, only allowing favourite carriers to use certain routes is not the way to do it.

    We need to think about limiting emissions in a liberalised market – whether that is through tax, regulation or cap and trade schemes. The latter does not have to mean the EU emissions trading scheme, as the EC is proposing. Aviation could have have cap and trade based on a maximum number of flights.

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