• T&E and ELFAA call on MEPs to support airspace emissions proposal

    Transport & Environment and the European Low Fares Airline Association have joined forces to support Peter Liese, the European Parliament’s lead member on the aviation emissions file, in his call for MEPs to back the Commission’s proposal, which would cover all aircraft emissions in European airspace.

    ELFAA and T&E say lawmakers should reject efforts by the governments of France, Germany, and the UK to weaken the environmental effectiveness of the Commission’s proposal by restricting the ETS to intra-EU flights until 2016 or even 2020.
    The restriction, known as ‘stop the clock’, was a temporary measure to give ICAO time to act. To adopt it as the basis of the ETS is not justifiable because it only regulates some international flights in the EU – those that take off and land in the EU – while specifically exempting all long haul operations which are also the main source of CO2 emissions. Arbitrary distinctions have no place in the application of laws governing international aviation.
    At its 2013 general assembly, ICAO failed to make a firm commitment to a global market-based measure and voted down any regional scheme in the meantime. ELFAA and T&E believe the correct response to the lack of real progress at ICAO is for the EU to revert to the legally-upheld full scope, which covers all flights arriving and departing in Europe. The EU clearly indicated it would take this action in its ultimatum to ICAO when proposing the final compromise EU-airspace option.
    Failing reversion to full scope, the EU should implement an ETS that at least covers emissions in European airspace, as this is recognised as states’ sovereign right [1]. The measure should snap back to full scope in 2016 unless a review concludes there has been adequate progress in ICAO.
    In the event the EU accepts any interim reduction from full scope, it must also revisit the benchmark of environmental efficiency, the original benchmark for full scope having advantaged longhaul operations.
    John Hanlon, Secretary General of ELFAA, said: “To prolong the one-year-only ‘stop the clock’ as the basis of the ETS is not only discriminatory but environmentally ineffective, capturing only 20% of EU aviation emissions of CO2, while letting long-haul flights off the hook. Failure to review the original benchmark, which was designed for a radically different scope, compounds the discriminatory effect on intra-Europe operators.”
    Meanwhile, EU regulators are still failing to properly enforce breaches of the original 2012 legislation by Chinese, Indian and Saudi carriers. ELFAA and T&E agree with Mr Liese that the Parliament should not sit to consider amending the ETS law that member states have failed to enforce and will likely continue to fail to enforce.
    Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at Transport & Environment, said: “Pursuing anything less than coverage of emissions in EU airspace is environmentally unacceptable. At the same time, not enforcing the existing ETS sends a clear signal to third countries that EU sovereignty doesn’t matter and it won’t advance efforts to secure agreement on global measures either.