Just released emails between Airbus and the European Commission expose the extent of the company’s hold on EU aviation policy. The aeronautics giant was given special privileges in determining essential aspects of the EU’s position when drafting climate rules for new aircraft at the UN aviation body, ICAO.
Efforts to position electrofuels as the great hope to decarbonise road transport received a blow with findings that the synthetic fuel is neither an efficient or a cost-effective solution for cars and trucks.
Carbon offsets excluded under EU climate laws are being purchased by airports to help them achieve a voluntary target of ‘carbon neutrality’, it has emerged. Research conducted by T&E found that the Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) programme has only vague guidelines on what types of offsets may be used and airports are not required to publicly disclose which offsets they purchase.
A push by ICAO and some of its members to set quantity and reduction targets for alternative aviation fuels such as biofuels, was rejected at a major conference convened by ICAO in Mexico City in October. 25 countries, many from Europe, refused to back the UN agency’s originally proposed ‘2050 Vision on Sustainable Aviation Fuels’ that included volume-based targets for 2025, 2040 and 2050. The International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation, of which T&E is a member, said the targets were selected based on poor analysis, and grossly overestimated the environmental benefits and potential emissions reductions.
Flights to and from Europe are set to be excluded from the EU emissions trading system (ETS) until the end of 2023 after a provisional agreement was reached between MEPs, governments and the European Commission. Meanwhile, for the first time there will be a cap on European aviation emissions, which would be progressively reduced from 2021. T&E said that this is very important since the question now shifts from ‘if’ to ‘how’ aviation decarbonises.
Flights to and from Europe are set to lose an indefinite exemption from the EU emissions trading system (ETS) after MEPs voted to limit the arrangement until 2021. The European Parliament made its decision pending further information about the UN aviation body ICAO’s own global offsetting measure known as ‘CORSIA’.
The rising scepticism about a global measure to partially offset aviation emissions was underscored this month with MEPs demanding a review in 2019 of the UN’s voluntary scheme, known as CORSIA. The European Parliament environment committee’s call for the review highlights Europe’s need to maintain an environmentally meaningful and strengthened regional measure, T&E said. The committee also voted to strengthen the EU emissions trading system’s (ETS) provisions on aviation.
The Green Party in Scotland has analysed the proposed halving of the tax levied on air passengers leaving Scottish airports and found most of the money saved will go to wealthy frequent flyers and businesses. T&E says the Scottish government’s proposals are just the latest in a series of unjustified government concessions to the aviation industry.
The former EU climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard has warned that the proposed agreement to stabilise emissions from aircraft will only work if all the details are transparent. Writing on the Climate Home website, she said without transparency there is a risk that airlines will offset their growing greenhouse gas emissions against projects that either don’t do enough to combat climate change or are being ‘double counted’.