• EC checks aviation ETS calculations are robust

    The maximum carbon emissions that aircraft using EU airports will be allowed to emit from 2012 is still unclear, as the process of working out aviation’s entry into the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) has fallen a little behind schedule.

    The Commission was due to announce the overall maximum annual emissions (or emissions ‘cap’) by the end of August, but it says it needs more time to make sure the data behind its calculations are accurate before it can announce the cap for 2012 and beyond. It now says the announcement will be made ‘in the autumn’.

    The terms agreed for aviation’s introduction to the ETS were that emissions from aircraft must not exceed 97% of average levels recorded in 2004-06 for the first year (2012) and 95% per year after that. Once the figure is agreed (in million tonnes), the Commission must then say how much each member state is allowed to emit, and national governments then have to give their airlines individual quotas.

    The delay has been caused by the need to make sure calculations of 2004-06 emissions are robust, as all subsequent calculations depend on them. As a result, several countries led by Great Britain and Germany have delayed their deadline for giving Brussels the framework for allocating emissions allowances among the airlines listed in their countries.

    A carbon trading analyst, Point Carbon, estimates the Commission will agree a figure of 218 million tonnes, while the Association of European Airlines says it is likely to be stricter at around 210mt.

    Point Carbon also calculates that airlines will have to buy €1.1 billion of carbon allowances, even though they only have to pay for 15% of the amount of CO2 they are allowed to emit. That calculation is based on the current carbon price of €14.4 per tonne – if predictions that the price could hit €20 by 2012 prove accurate, the airlines’ collective bill could be around €15bn.

    The publication of a list setting out how revenues from the ETS will be divided among member states has also been delayed, but last month the Commission did publish a revised list of aircraft operators in the EU – the total came to nearly 4000.