The Dutch emissions authority says the airline, which has not been named publicly, failed to hand over emission allowances for almost 5,900 tonnes of CO2 it emitted in 2012. The airline still has the opportunity to respond to before the formal investigation proceeds.
For 2012, the EU restricted the scope of the emissions trading system for aviation to cover only flights within Europe. This ‘stop the clock’ measure has since been extended until 2016 and exempts most third-country airlines, but a small number that did operate intra-European flights in 2012 were still affected.
Countries including China, the US and Russia oppose the EU’s attempt to regulate their airlines’ emissions and have instructed them not to comply with the ETS.
In April, Germany ordered 61 airlines from Russia, the US and other countries to pay fines for breaching the EU ETS. 44 of the airlines were from countries outside Europe. German regulators declined to name the airlines being penalised with fines totalling €2.7 million.
National governments are responsible for fining non-ETS-compliant airlines, and France and the UK have faced criticism for delaying penalties for carriers operating from their countries so as not to anger foreign powers. The time period for levying the penalties will end this summer.
T&E aviation programme manager Bill Hemmings said: ‘We now need to see details of all offenders to ensure the law has been fairly and equitably applied.’
Aviation is the most carbon-intensive transport mode, responsible for about 5% of global man-made climate change. If it were a country, aviation would be ranked 7th in the world for CO2 emissions. EU aviation emissions, a third of global totals, have doubled since 1990 and will triple by 2050 if unchecked.
Last year, the UN’s aviation body, ICAO, agreed to ‘develop’ a global measure for 2020 to reduce airlines’ CO2 emissions, with the details to be agreed by its next assembly in 2016.