• Grey day for environment as Europe reduces its aviation emissions coverage

    The European Commission today, under intense international pressure, proposed to reduce its Emissions Trading System (ETS) for aviation to only cover flights in European airspace. The proposal would only cover 35% of aviation emissions compared to the original aviation EU ETS.

    Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at Transport & Environment, said: “It is disgraceful that foreign and industry pressure has obliged Europe to shrink its own aviation emissions law to the bare minimum. While aviation emissions are skyrocketing, Europe’s aviation climate measure has had its wings clipped. This is a grey day for the climate and for those that are serious about tackling aviation’s fast-growing warming impact.

    Aviation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector and the most climate-intensive form of transport. Aviation emissions have more than doubled in the last twenty years and the sector accounts for 5% of global warming.
    The Commission’s text comes shortly after the conclusion of the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) triennial assembly, where delegates, in a political decision, finally agreed to talk about the details of a global market based measure for 2020 but rejected interim measures like the EU ETS. The Commission’s proposal to restrict regulation to emissions in its airspace acknowledges the concerns of ICAO members but fails to include a fallback provision should the ICAO process fail to agree global implementation details in 2016.
    In such a case the EU should make clear that it will regulate intercontinental flights on a 50/50 basis: the first 50% of any departing flight and the last 50% of any arriving flight. As it is, airspace leaves the vast bulk of EU aviation emissions – which come from long-haul flights – unregulated. On a global scale, 78% of aviation emissions would remain uncovered because of flights over international waters.
    Aoife O’Leary, aviation policy officer, added: “The ICAO outcome on a global measure is full of holes, and many uncertainties about any deal in 2016 remain. In these circumstances, we urge the European Parliament and Member States to include an option to extend the aviation emissions coverage of the ETS to a 50/50 basis in 2017. Only then will regional measures, like the EU ETS, be environmentally effective.