EU aviation deal will see another lost decade in tackling emissions
EU negotiators have come to an agreement on the carbon market for aviation and failed to include long-haul flights in the pricing scheme. But in an unprecedented move, non-CO2 effects of the sector will be addressed under the agreement.
EU negotiators have come to an agreement on the carbon market for aviation and failed to include long-haul flights in the pricing scheme. The carbon market will remain limited to intra-EEA flights. As a result, 58% of Europe’s aviation CO2 emissions will remain unaccounted for. But in an unprecedented move, non-CO2 effects of the sector will finally be addressed under the agreement.
The decision is set to make international aviation one of the only sectors of the EU economy that will not fall under an emissions cap or price. Power plants, steel makers, the chemicals industry and international shipping will be regulated by the EU carbon market (EU ETS).
Member States were opposed to the extension of the carbon market to departing flights, saying that the international offsetting scheme CORSIA, set up by the UN agency ICAO, will effectively address international aviation emissions. The continuing ascendancy of ICAO will unfairly affect European families flying within the EU on their annual holiday, who will have to pay for their CO2 emissions, whereas long-haul travelers flying abroad won’t.
Jo Dardenne, aviation director at T&E says, “EU governments were oblivious to the weakness of ICAO and lacked the grit to push through a deal that was good for the climate and social justice. Average European families will continue to pay much more for their CO2 emissions than frequent long-haul flyers. We are about to lose another decade of climate inaction because of EU governments’ cowardice towards ICAO.”
CORSIA is a cheap and dubious offsetting scheme that has been proven time and time again to fail in effectively dealing with aviation emissions. A study by T&E shows that a mere 22% of total international emissions would be covered by 2030. In last night’s agreement, it was decided that the scope of the EU ETS could be revised by 2027 if CORSIA isn’t strengthened. Experience to date has shown that ICAO and CORSIA will never deliver on the climate.
Other aspects of the deal included a non-CO2 reporting provision, where airlines will have to disclose their non-CO2 effects, representing two thirds of their climate impact. Free allowances to airlines will be phased out by 2026, one year earlier than the original proposal. But negotiators approved a “SAF allowances” pricing scheme, which aims to bridge the price gap between conventional jet fuel and sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs). Encouraging the deployment of SAFs will be key in ensuring their uptake in the future, but only if reserved for the most sustainable fuels, explains T&E.
“The deal ignores the biggest chunk of CO2 aviation emissions but, in a world first move, the EU is finally paving the way to addressing non-CO2 effects of the sector”, concludes Jo Dardenne.
 The legislation applies to flights from, to and within the EEA – the EU Member States, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, as well as flights from the EEA to the UK and Switzerland.