• EU aviation emissions scheme ‘too weak’

    European Commission plans to integrate air transport into the EU emissions trading system are too weak to substantially reduce the climate impact of the sector according to T&E, a network of sustainable transport groups. T&E calculates that the effect of the proposed system will be to reduce aviation emissions by just 3% which is equivalent to less than one year's growth of the sector's emissions (1). To be effective, the scheme must be accompanied by additional measures applied to all other sectors such as a tax on fuel and VAT on tickets.

    [mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]Jos Dings, director of T&E said, “After ten years of talk, we welcome the world’s first multilateral plan to cut aviation emissions. But the European Parliament and ministers must quickly agree to an end result that actually encourages airlines to cut their emissions rather than giving them a free ride.”

    “At the moment it looks like the Commission has simply ticked off several items on the industry’s wish list, namely free emissions permits, no firm commitment to introduce fuel taxes or deal with non-CO2 impacts, and 75% less emissions covered in the first year of the scheme. Rather than a plan to reduce emissions from aviation, this looks like business as usual and the likelihood of massive windfall profits for the industry” said Dings.

    According to a WWF report published on Monday (2) airlines stand to make windfall profits of €3.5 billion as a result of the proposal to mostly give away emissions permits rather than auction them. This absurd consequence would occur because airlines are likely to follow the example of power companies and pass on the market price of permits to consumers even though they received them for free.

    Airlines have complained that that it is unfair to apply a stricter auctioning policy to them than other sectors already in the EU-ETS. However, the emissions cap for airlines is to stabilise emissions at around 90% above their 1990 level. Conversely, all other sectors must cut emissions in line with Kyoto targets i.e. to an average of 8% below the 1990 level. The aviation sector could therefore be given around double the free permits other sectors receive.

    “It is stunning that the aviation industry can talk about ‘fairness’ with a straight face. Not only does the industry stand to get double the permits of other sectors, the fuel tax exemption enjoyed by the sector is worth another €35 billion alone, not to mention the lack of VAT on tickets and the €20 billion European taxpayers have paid out in rescue aid to airlines.” said Dings (3).


    Jos Dings, Director, T&E, tel: +32 2 289 10 47, gsm: +32 498 515319, jos.dings@transportenvironment.org

    Dudley Curtis, Communications Officer, T&E, tel: +32 2 289 10 42, dudley.curtis@transportenvironment.org

    Notes to editors:


    Aviation emissions would be reduced by 3% based on a CO2 price in the EU-ETS of €15 per tonne, equivalent to €0.04 per litre of kerosene. These figures are in line with the European Commission’s Impact Assessment.




    Based on current taxes on road fuels in the EU – about €0.65 per litre on average – aviation’s current exemption from fuel taxes is worth about €35 billion per year in the EU. Lufthansa has estimated the value of rescue aid in Europe at €20 billion since 1991. The European Commission also permits state aid of up to 50% of the start-up costs of regional airports and new connections departing from them, for a period of up to five years. For example, in June, the Commission authorised the French Chamber of Commerce to subsidise Ryanair by up to €500,000 per year for three years to set up a new route from London Stansted airport to Toulon in the South of France.

    Download T&E background briefing on aviation emissions trading