NGOs working on aviation’s climate impact have called on the European Commission to reject industry demands to hastily sign up to the controversial ‘Corsia’ carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation. T&E is warning that such a move is both against EU law, and threatens the only effective measure currently in place to address aviation emissions.
A UN scheme being set up to tackle the climate impact of flying will credit airlines that use fossil fuels that have been declared to be ‘green’. The extraordinary concession was pushed through by Saudi Arabia, with the backing of the United States, and means that, for example, airlines burning kerosene could be rewarded with reduced obligations to buy carbon offsets simply because the refinery producing the oil was running on renewable electricity.
There are growing calls for a green tax shift to the transport sector, which would help fill a gap in the EU’s budget after the UK leaves. A T&E analysis has found new measures such as a carbon tax on motor fuels, aviation kerosene duty, and ending the VAT exemption for flights within and from Europe would raise more than €50 billion annually. And last week, as EU leaders discussed the looming gap, 17 eminent economists rowed in behind the idea, calling it a ‘once in a decade opportunity’ to create a fossil-fuel contribution to the EU budget.
The UK cannot enjoy its current access to the EU air transport market after it leaves the EU unless it also commits to respecting EU aviation rules, a new report by T&E says. The report examines how to safeguard efforts to reduce the environmental impact of aviation after ‘Brexit’, and concludes that everyone stands to benefit if the British government adheres to EU rules on emissions trading and state aid.
Transport has taken over from power generation as the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US – and the situation is likely to get worse as the Trump administration plans to weaken emissions standards. T&E says the policy will only damage US carmakers. Transport has been the single biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in Europe since 2016.
The Dutch government’s refusal to publish documents about a controversial CO2 standard for aircraft, among other issues, is being challenged in court by T&E member Natuur & Milieu. It’s alleged that, by continuing to withhold decisions and research about the CO2 standard, emission trends, biofuels and offset rules – all of which were drafted or developed behind closed doors at UN aviation agency ICAO – the Netherlands is in breach of EU law.
The French president has reiterated his call for a European carbon tax on the EU’s borders to guarantee fair competition for companies taking action to reduce their climate impact. The idea – which featured in T&E’s report, Can trade and investment policy support ambitious climate action?, last month – has been gathering momentum and was previously endorsed by IMF chief Christine Lagarde and Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman.
Europe’s only government that does not tax diesel fuel more favourably than petrol has gone a step further by increasing tax on diesel engine cars while leaving it unaltered for petrol cars. In his annual budget speech, the British chancellor of the exchequer (finance minister) said new diesels that failed to pass the strictest emissions tests would pay more tax each year. T&E said the announcement was more important for its symbolism than its financial impact.
The days of time-based charges for heavy-goods vehicles may be numbered after it emerged that two more EU member countries are close to introducing distance-based charging schemes for heavy goods vehicles. The Netherlands and Bulgaria plan to introduce distance-based charging, and the timing could be important for the future of truck charging in Europe.