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  • MEPs fire shot across Commission’s bows over joining UN aviation carbon scheme

    Today MEPs called on the EU to hold back any decision on participating in a UN carbon offsetting scheme for aircraft emissions reflects – reflecting concern over the findings of a new study that the scheme will seriously undermine Europe’s 2030 climate targets.

    The scheme, known as Corsia, risks creating a gap of 96.2 Mtonnes CO2 – equivalent to Europe’s annual steel and iron emissions – if it were to replace aviation’s inclusion in the ETS, as industry is calling for, according to an expert study commissioned by Transport & Environment (T&E). Now the European Parliament’s environment committee, when adopting its position ahead of the COP24 talks, has supported amendments calling for Europe not to sign up to the measure unreservedly.

    Corsia will cap airlines’ annual emissions at the level they reach in 2020. However, airlines can emit even more carbon by buying offsets – where they invest in environmental projects, such as windfarms which would have been built anyway, instead of reducing their own carbon footprint. However, due to serious doubts over the environmental effectiveness of carbon offsets, Europe intends to discontinue their use in its climate policy from 2021.

    T&E’s aviation manager, Andrew Murphy, said: “Corsia is a weak measure that relies on increasingly discredited carbon offsetting. Ditching the ETS for such an approach would mean other European sectors would need to increase their emissions reduction effort to compensate for aviation’s inaction.”

    The Commission is set to propose legislation to enable participation in the controversial scheme’s monitoring, reporting and verification aspects from 2019, though this will require the consent of governments and the European Parliament. Today the parliament’s environment committee said the EU should “reserve” its position on participation pending a forthcoming review of the scheme as provided for in legislation agreed last year. [1]

    Andrew Murphy concluded: “MEPs have fired a shot across the European Commission’s bows. The final say on joining Corsia must be with Parliament and governments. They must not sell out the ETS, the one measure currently capable of reducing aircraft emissions, for the magic beans that Corsia is offering.”

    Plenary will vote on the report during the week of 22 October. States have a deadline of 1 December to respond to ICAO, and the Commission is believed to be working on a draft union position.

    Note to editors:
    [1] Article 28b of the 2017 Regulation amending the 2003 ETS Directive.

    Read more:
    Study: UN aviation climate scheme threatens gaping hole in EU 2030 targets