ICAO looks like wasting EU’s gesture

The EU has finalised the text of its ‘stop the clock’ concession on the inclusion of emissions from intercontinental flights in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, although the chances of the gesture being wasted by members of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) look greater with each day that goes by.

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Intercontinental flights involving all EU airports were subject to emissions trading from 1 January last year, but because of complaints from the USA, China as well as major European carriers and Airbus, the EU made the gesture of suspending the requirement to include all emissions from intercontinental flights for a year, in the hope of achieving a global aviation emissions agreement at the triennial ICAO general assembly next  September.

However, so little progress has been made that the likelihood of an agreement being reached by September is decreasing, and in that case the EU says it will re-start the clock and subject all flights to emissions trading. A ruling by the European Court of Justice in 2011 confirmed that applying emissions trading to intercontinental flights is perfectly legal. 

ICAO’s lack of action is consistent with its record since it was given responsibility for tackling international aviation’s environmental impact in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.