Environmentalists urge governments to make foreign airlines pay for pollution in Europe

Green NGOs [1] have made formal requests to the Emissions Trading System (ETS) enforcement authorities in Germany, the Netherlands and the UK to take all necessary enforcement actions against airlines that failed to comply with the ETS in 2012.  

According to the EU ETS registry monitoring compliance, foreign carriers including Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Air India, Jet Airways, Saudia Airlines and Aeroflot-Russian Airlines have not submitted carbon permits to cover emissions for their intra-EU flights in 2012. While these few foreign airlines failed to comply with the EU emissions law, air operators responsible for over 98% of all aviation emissions under the system did comply [2].

The deadline for submitting carbon allowances for emissions for 2012 was 30 April 2013. Carriers that fail to comply effectively operate at a competitive advantage against those that do. EU countries with responsibility for enforcement (different carriers are responsible to different administrations) are required to follow varying procedures to ensure compliance but, in general, compliance has been due since 30 April last year.

Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at Transport & Environment, said: “It’s scandalous that almost a year after foreign airlines failed to comply with the ETS, governments haven’t enforced the EU law. No enforcement means offenders gain a competitive advantage over those that did play by the rules and foreign governments receive a signal that complying with EU law is voluntary for foreigners. So EU countries must enforce compliance with the EU ETS in a consistent and fair manner whether the operator concerned is a flag carrier of a state opposing the EU’s measure, a small regional operator or a business jet.”

The European Commission has the power to take to court EU countries that don’t enforce European laws.

Aviation is the most carbon-intensive transport mode, responsible for about 5% of global warming. If aviation were a country it would be ranked 7th in the world for CO2 emissions – between Germany and Korea. EU aviation emissions, a third of global totals, have doubled since 1990 and will triple by 2050 if unchecked.

The European Union expresses full support for efforts now underway in ICAO, the UN’s aviation body, to finally agree a global plan to address aviation emissions. But it is far from assured that such a plan will indeed be agreed, and if it is, whether it will have a meaningful impact. The only international measure actually in place is the EU ETS. It makes no sense and undermines the EU’s position internationally to enforce the ETS partially or in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

[1] The environmental NGOs are a pan-European network of sustainable transport campaigners: Transport & Environment, Aviation Environment Federation (UK), Natuur en Milieu (the Netherlands) and BUND (Friends of the Earth – Germany).

[2] Sandbag, Aviation and the ETS: What happened in 2012 during ‘Stop the Clock’? Available at: bag.org.uk/site_media/pdfs/reports/Sandbag_Aviation_and_the_EU_ETS_2012_171213_1.pdf


Contact the press team

Nico Muzi
Communications Director
+32 (0)484 27 87 91 
nico.muzi@transportenvironment.org

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