MEPs voted today to limit the exemption from the EU ETS of flights to and from Europe until 2021, pending further information regarding the UN aviation body ICAO’s global offsetting measure known as ‘CORSIA’. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) welcomes this vote as essential to safeguarding European climate goals. MEPs also endorsed a number of reforms to aviation’s inclusion in Europe’s emissions trading scheme which will start to cut back on the sector’s special treatment on climate policy.
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 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’.
Following remarks by Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary rejecting the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change, T&E and Climate Action Network Europe call on Ryanair's European lobbying group, AirlinesforEurope (A4E), and A4E's other member airlines to state publicly whether they side with O'Leary's climate denial or whether they accept the proven link between human activity and a warming planet.With aviation emissions continuing to soar – up 8% in Europe alone in 2016 – and governments struggling to introduce effective measures to rein them in, there is a strong public and consumer interest in knowing whether European airlines accept the need to take action on climate change or are intent on identifying with the diminishing band of climate deniers. National and European decision makers should also know where airlines stand on the issue of climate change when they are being intensively lobbied by airlines on the issue.
The EU’s Environment Council meets Tuesday to discuss Europe’s emissions trading system. The EU ETS is often described as the “flagship” of Europe’s climate policy and is currently the largest carbon market in the world. However it has been malfunctioning since a systematic oversupply of credits built up as a result of both Europe’s economic crisis and weak ambition in setting the cap when the ETS was first established.
· MEPs also back tightening cap on aviation emissions.Support from ports and cargo owners for last week’s vote by MEPs to include shipping emissions in the EU emissions trading system (ETS) has been sharply criticised by shipowners. The European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA) said it ‘deplores’ the shipping industry’s backing for Europe regulating ship CO2 as a ‘first move’ to kick start action at global level. Shipping in Europe has CO2 emissions equal those of the Netherlands.
Aviation is responsible for an estimated 5% of climate change, however the Paris Agreement left it unclear who is responsible for regulating the sector’s emissions. At the conclusion of COP21, the UN’s aviation agency, ICAO, and the aviation sector itself committed to substantial climate action in 2016. Now is the time to evaluate whether they followed through on that commitment. The two measures adopted in 2016 – a CO2 standard for new aircraft and a global market based measure to stabilise emissions at 2020 levels fall far short of what the Paris Agreement requires. Neither will have a meaningful impact on aviation emissions. Much more is needed – both greater ambition at ICAO, but also developed countries must go first and take serious action to reduce emissions from the aviation sectors which dwarf emissions from developing countries.
The Paris Agreement’s objectives cannot be achieved without action to address rapidly growing emissions from international aviation and shipping, however these emissions sit outside of national targets. At the conclusion of COP21, the two UN agencies which regulate these sectors (ICAO for aviation and IMO for shipping) promised big action in 2016. Did they deliver? The event will consider what progress, if any, was made this year, what impact it may have on these sectors and what needs to happen now.
After 3 years of work, ICAO is due to agree a global climate deal for international aviation at its triennial assembly Sept 27 - Oct 7th. The outcome will be closely watched to see if the sector can take action to limit is considerable and growing climate impact.Transport & Environment and Carbon Market Watch, with the support of WWF European Policy Office and AEF, organise a post-assembly lunch event to consider the outcome of the assembly and its implications for European climate and aviation policy. The event will present expert analysis of any agreement and discuss what are the next steps, in particular implications for the EU Emission Trading System.Please register here.