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EU to make airlines pay for emissions

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(Read caption) A Ryanair airplane lands at Liverpool's John Lennon Airport.

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The European Parliament approved a carbon-trading scheme Tuesday that will include emissions from airlines as of 2012.

The Parliament voted 640 to 30 in favor of the proposal, with 20 members abstaining. The draft law is expected to be formally approved by EU governments soon.

Under the plan, all airlines taking off and landing within the 27-nation European Union, including foreign carriers, will have to cut their emissions 3 percent in 2012 and 5 percent per year from 2013 on. The law allows them to meet these targets either by reducing their emissions or by buying carbon credits from other companies with surpluses.

Additionally, 15 percent of the credits would be auctioned off by the EU; the rest would be divided among airlines at no charge.

Aviation currently only accounts for only about 3 percent of the EU's total greenhouse gas emissions, but the sector has seen an 87 percent increase in emissions since 1990. If current trends continue, emissions are expected to double again by 2020.

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