The EU’s decision to ‘stop the clock’ on including emissions from intercontinental flights in its Emissions Trading Scheme appears to have been influenced by Chinese threats to cancel orders for new planes from Airbus. A letter from the president of the French aircraft maker to China’s leading aviation official – seen by Reuters – says Airbus played an influential role in persuading the EU to give the world’s governments another year to reach agreement on how to tackle carbon emissions from air transport. T&E says European governments have effectively given China ‘a veto over European policy’.
Following the European Parliament’s vote approving the Commission’s proposal to “Stop the Clock”, Conservative MEP Peter Liese, aviation EU ETS and “Stop the Clock” Rapporteur, hosted a public briefing for MEPs in Brussels on Wednesday 24th April to review progress of the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) High Level Group on Climate Change (HGCC) formation, of which had prompted Europe’s stop the clock decision. The conference was attended by Jos Delbeke, Director–General DG Clima, Prof David Lee of Manchester University, IATA’s Paul Steele and Green MEP Satu Hassi. The derogation became European law on 25 April. Here’s our report of what was said there.
The clock may have been stopped for a year, but time is still passing. ‘Stopping the clock’ was a big gesture from the EU. With the world saying it was the EU’s decision to include aviation in its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) that was preventing global action to tackle aircraft’s contribution to climate change, the EU said ‘OK, we’ll suspend our action for a year to create the chance for a global agreement.’ Yet so far, little progress has been made and the blame heaped on the EU’s ETS looks more and more like the empty excuse we always thought it was.
Airlines are making so-called ‘windfall profits’ of up to €1.3bn by charging passengers for permits to pollute which they are no longer obliged to hand over to European countries. That is the main conclusion of a study by the Dutch consultancy CE Delft carried out for T&E. T&E, in a statement, called for airlines not to retain these windfall profits - which would, they say, be a betrayal of passengers’ contributions to fight climate change. Instead, the campaign group called for any such profits to fund developing countries’ efforts to deal with the effects of climate change.
"The role of the Commission in advancing the road pricing agenda cannot be underestimated", T&E Director Jos Dings stated at the Conference on fair and efficient road pricing organised by the European Commission on 5 Dec:
Road pricing is progressing because the list of its advantages is impressive. No wonder ever more countries in Europe are choosing for road user charging, and we are having a conference about its future.
The idea of making fuel tax in Europe relate to a fuel’s energy and carbon dioxide content is still struggling to get into the EU Energy Tax Directive. Last month EU finance ministers moved closer to approving a new structure for minimum tax rates for fuels, but most member states opposed any system that would force them to make diesel more expensive than petrol.