Flying via Istanbul: escaping climate measures?

September 21, 2023

Assessing the impact of EU climate measures on the competitiveness of the EU's aviation industry

The EU’s aviation industry claimed that climate measures in Europe will harm their competitiveness and will result in emissions being exported overseas, a phenomenon referred to as ‘carbon leakage’. In this briefing, Transport & Environment (T&E) examines the actual impact of the EU’s Fit for 55 (FF55) package on aviation traffic forecast and emissions reduction. It examines industry claims and presents the results of a comprehensive analysis commissioned from the same research institute, SEO Amsterdam Economics (SEO). The analysis reveals that:

  • Risks of carbon leakage are limited to 3% of the total emissions savings brought by FF55 measures by 2035. Instead of reducing emissions by 38.4 Megatonnes of CO2 (MtCO2), emissions are reduced by 37.2 MtCO2 by 2035, equivalent to the annual emissions of 10 coal-fired power plants.
  • Despite the climate measures, there will be 24% more passengers travelling through airports located in the European Economic Area (EEA) in 2035 compared to 2018. 
  • The growth in traffic at airports located in countries with less stringent climate policies is primarily inherent to the aviation market and is only marginally influenced by the implementation of climate measures in Europe.
  • Solutions exist to make climate measures even more effective and reduce this limited carbon leakage. They include reducing the price gap between sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and fossil kerosene or better regulating access to the European market by non-European airlines through Air Services Agreements (ASA). 

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