The European Parliament (EP) debated here Monday on a proposal for the Emissions Trading Scheme to apply to all European air traffic by 2010.
Parliament's rapporteur on the issue, German MEP Peter Liese (EPP-ED), suggested at the opening session of the EP's four-day plenary that air traffic should be included in the scheme.
"Emissions trading is the most important instrument of the EU to mitigate climate change," he said.
Members of the Parliament on the Environment Committee wanted all European flights included by 2010.
"It is difficult to explain that a flight from the UK to Morocco is not covered by the scheme from the start while a flight from the UK to the Canary Islands would be," said Liese.
The commission had earlier envisaged inter-EU flights by 2011 and then flights departing or arriving from the EU by 2012.
As for the way in which it would work, Liese said that "in contrast to the existing scheme, the allocations for aviation will not be distributed by the (EU) member states but by a European harmonized allocation method."
The Emissions Trading Scheme was established in 2005 as a way of using market incentives for companies to reduce their CO2 emissions. Currently, companies can buy and sell allowances worth one ton of CO2 each.
Sectors such as power and heat generators, oil refineries, metals, pulp and paper are covered in the scheme, under which the amount of trading is allocated in "National Allocation Plans" with about 1.5 million tones of CO2 being bought and sold every day.
As low-cost airlines and increased business travel have led to growing passenger numbers, CO2 emissions from planes have risen 87percent since 1990, according to an EP news release.
It described traveling by plane as one of the least "green" modes available, since it would use on average 191 grams of CO2 per passenger per kilometer, compared with 143 grams for a car and47 grams by train.
If current trends continue, CO2 emissions from planes will double by 2020, the release noted.