T&E’s ETS calculator shows how getting the right balance on aviation’s inclusion in the EU emissions trading system (ETS) can help solve two problems at once: the sector’s major and growing climate impact, and Europe’s need to raise climate finance. Decision-makers should seize this opportunity offered by the ongoing reform of aviation provisions in the EU ETS.
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.
Non-CO2 effects of aviation have been acknowledged by scientists but ignored by policymakers. It is estimated that gases other than CO2 have at least as large a climate impact as CO2. The European Commission has so far failed to address aviation’s non-CO2 effects despite undertaking to do so in 2008. This risks undermining the EU’s climate policy. In this briefing T&E recommends that the Commission now acts on its 2008 promise and proposes a charge on NOx emissions and earmarks funds for research into other non-CO2 effects such as contrail and cirrus formation and their avoidance.
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’.
T&E has responded to the European Commission's Public Consultation on Passengers Rights in Multimodal Transport. Through-ticketing has been essential for the growth of aviation and connectivity in Europe. By contrast, national rail companies have largely avoided these types of agreements because of competitive reasons and accordingly the opportunity for cross border rail travel has suffered enormously. Rail companies should start sharing data to make through-ticketing possible for train travel.
This blog post was originally published on EurActivCarbon from all sectors in the EU’s emissions trading system decreased in 2016 with one exception: aviation. CO2 from flights within Europe grew 8%, according to figures released last week by the European Commission. Low-fares airlines drove this growth, with Ryanair, Wizz Air, Eurowings and Norwegian all registering double-digit increases in emissions. These airlines are now huge emitters with carbon footprints exceeding those of some small countries. For example, Ryanair’s flights within Europe emit more CO2 than Costa Rica or Cyprus.
Carbon offsets are not working, according to a study by the European Commission. This measure allows polluters to pay others to reduce their emissions, so they can continue to pollute. The research found that 85% of the offset projects used by the EU under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) failed to reduce emissions.