Last week’s deal reached at ICAO, the UN agency, to establish a global offsetting programme for aviation received a mixed response, yet it was heralded by industry and some policymakers as the dawn of sustainable aviation.
Aviation is a substantial and growing driver of climate change, currently responsible for almost 5% of global warming. The objectives of the Paris Agreement cannot be achieved without action to rein in its emissions growth. This T&E briefing outlines how, at its triennial assembly, ICAO has an opportunity to adopt a global market-based measure which can be a starting point for greater global ambition. However, negotiations dominated by the need to protect industry and favour historic emitters is weakening the prospect of a credible deal.
Despite being in need of reform, the EU’s aviation ETS is functioning, is being complied with, and has the potential to deliver real emissions reductions, a new analysis shows. Its key design features – emissions allowances instead of offsets, being binding instead of voluntary, and full instead of partial coverage of emissions – are all superior to the draft global deal under negotiation at the UN’s aviation agency ICAO. Europe is under pressure to dismantle its regional measure even though discussions on a global measure at ICAO remain fractious.
Director-general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Alexandre de Juniac, recently called on the EU to replace the current EU emissions trading system (EU ETS) for flights within Europe with the UN offsetting scheme, CORSIA. In a letter in response, T&E, Climate Action Network Europe and Carbon Market Watch state that such a move would constitute a substantial cut in Europe’s climate ambition, reducing the emissions reduction obligation on airlines operating in Europe by three quarters. It would also represent a weakening of Europe’s international climate commitment and a distortion of competition within Europe’s single market.
In a plenary vote on 14 February, the European Parliament will adopt its position on reforms to Europe’s emissions trading system (EU ETS) for the 4th trading period (2021-2030). These reforms aim to fix major issues with EU ETS such as the need for tighter reduction caps and the oversupply of allowances which has depressed the carbon price.
Aviation is even further away from doing its fair share to achieve the Paris climate goals after the European Commission proposed today that CO2 from flights to and from Europe should continue to go unregulated in the EU emissions trading system (ETS), sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) has said. The Commission’s decision cuts across the conclusions of its own impact assessment that even if the recent UN global aviation deal gets off the ground it will fall well short of the required ambition.
In a letter to the Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc, five green and development organisations - Birdlife, Friends of the Earth, Fern, Oxfam, and T&E - ask the Commissioner to reconsider her position about aviation biofuels. The organisations also make some recommendations on how to start decarbonising the sector.