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.
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.
Suddenly Karel de Gucht is the most talked-about figure in Brussels. The Belgian trade commissioner is very busy. He is trying to finish a free trade deal with Canada; his boss and Obama are pressing for a deal with the US to be next. And then there is China – where the direction is towards less, not more, free trade. The EU has just imposed an anti-dumping 12% tariff on Chinese solar panels, with a threat to go to 47%. In its response, China is trying to play the usual divide-and-rule tactic by threatening tariffs on wine (annoying for the French), and luxury cars (annoying for the Germans).
The EU’s decision to ‘stop the clock’ on including emissions from intercontinental flights in its Emissions Trading Scheme appears to have been influenced by Chinese threats to cancel orders for new planes from Airbus. A letter from the president of the French aircraft maker to China’s leading aviation official – seen by Reuters – says Airbus played an influential role in persuading the EU to give the world’s governments another year to reach agreement on how to tackle carbon emissions from air transport. T&E says European governments have effectively given China ‘a veto over European policy’.
Following the European Parliament’s vote approving the Commission’s proposal to “Stop the Clock”, Conservative MEP Peter Liese, aviation EU ETS and “Stop the Clock” Rapporteur, hosted a public briefing for MEPs in Brussels on Wednesday 24th April to review progress of the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) High Level Group on Climate Change (HGCC) formation, of which had prompted Europe’s stop the clock decision. The conference was attended by Jos Delbeke, Director–General DG Clima, Prof David Lee of Manchester University, IATA’s Paul Steele and Green MEP Satu Hassi. The derogation became European law on 25 April. Here’s our report of what was said there.
The clock may have been stopped for a year, but time is still passing. ‘Stopping the clock’ was a big gesture from the EU. With the world saying it was the EU’s decision to include aviation in its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) that was preventing global action to tackle aircraft’s contribution to climate change, the EU said ‘OK, we’ll suspend our action for a year to create the chance for a global agreement.’ Yet so far, little progress has been made and the blame heaped on the EU’s ETS looks more and more like the empty excuse we always thought it was.
Airlines are making so-called ‘windfall profits’ of up to €1.3bn by charging passengers for permits to pollute which they are no longer obliged to hand over to European countries. That is the main conclusion of a study by the Dutch consultancy CE Delft carried out for T&E. T&E, in a statement, called for airlines not to retain these windfall profits - which would, they say, be a betrayal of passengers’ contributions to fight climate change. Instead, the campaign group called for any such profits to fund developing countries’ efforts to deal with the effects of climate change.
"The role of the Commission in advancing the road pricing agenda cannot be underestimated", T&E Director Jos Dings stated at the Conference on fair and efficient road pricing organised by the European Commission on 5 Dec.