Yes, this editorial has an unlikely title. If you have been following us, or the issues we work on, a little bit, the overwhelming impression is that things have been scaled back (emissions-trading aviation), postponed (the Fuel Quality Directive, possibly NOx from ship engines, truck CO2 emissions) and watered down (CO2 from cars, biofuels).
The European Commission has proposed to change the geographical scope of the EU ETS. This would result in fewer emissions under the cap, and consequently a smaller absolute emissions reduction. This note by CE Delft analyses how the cap would need to be changed in order to ensure a constant absolute emission reduction from the aviation sector. It finds that the cap needs to be 15-55% lower than the one proposed by the Commission.
The European Commission has published a proposal to amend once again the rules governing emissions trading for aviation. This latest amendment follows the failure of the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) triennial assembly to agree a global emissions reduction scheme. T&E says the latest revisions to the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) would only cover 35% of the aircraft emissions included in the original ETS, and described the pressure the EU is under as ‘disgraceful’.
Twenty-one Nobel prize winners have urged the EU to immediately implement the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) which would label tar sands as dirtier than other fuels. ‘The extraction of unconventional fuels – such as oil sands and oil shale – is having a particularly devastating impact on climate change,’ wrote the laureates in a letter to European commissioners and environment ministers earlier this month.
On 3 July 2013 the European Commission published revised draft guidelines on State aid to airports and airlines. The guidelines need to be urgently reconsidered as they risk further distorting competition, wasting scare public resources and expanding billions of euros in climate harmful subsidies.
The French government has delayed by three months the introduction of its distance-based eco-tax on lorries. The tax was to have come into effect on 1 October, but has been put back to the start of 2014. The French transport minister blamed technical difficulties, but one of T&E’s French members – France Nature Environnement – said this is just the latest in a series of delaying tactics by hauliers and shippers who want the tax either delayed indefinitely or severely watered down. The eco-tax, which will apply to lorries over 3.5 tonnes using about 15,000km of main roads that are not part of the tolled Péage network, is expected to earn the French government €1.2 billion a year – which means the three-month delay will cost it around €300 million.
A new scientific report released today highlights the critical importance of taking early action when implementing measures to reduce the climate impact of rapidly increasing emissions from aviation. With a decision expected shortly on how and when to tackle international aviation emissions, this new report increases the pressure on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) not to defer a decision on the adoption of a market-based measure (MBM).
On 3 July, the Commission released draft new guidelines on State aid to the aviation industry. Citizens have until 25 September to comment. T&E estimate that about €3bn a year goes to the aviation industry across the EU and the Airports Council International (ACI) have estimated that airports under-recover about €4bn in airport costs a year.
This article was first published, in abridged form, by Ethical Consumer. If global aviation emissions were a country, it would be ranked 7th in the list of global emitters, between Germany and South Korea. Yet aviation is the only means of transportation that doesn't pay a penny of tax on the fuel it burns. This is an unfair advantage that airlines have over trains, coaches and cars, making it the fastest growing form of transport while also being the most carbon intensive. All of this is to the benefit of rich chaps, as, contrary to common public myth about low cost flights, air travel is one of the least democratic forms of moving from A to B.