EU lays bare doubts over ‘global’ aviation CO2 scheme

Aviation is even further away from doing its fair share to achieve the Paris climate goals after the European Commission proposed today that CO2 from flights to and from Europe should continue to go unregulated in the EU emissions trading system (ETS), sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) has said. The Commission’s decision cuts across the conclusions of its own impact assessment that even if the recent UN global aviation deal gets off the ground it will fall well short of the required ambition.

Bill Hemmings, aviation director at T&E, said: “The Commission has chosen to again suspend the only effective measure to regulate aviation emissions, all for a voluntary deal which is years from coming into operation and which may never actually reduce the climate impact of flying. By letting aviation off the hook again, other sectors will now have to do more on cutting their climate emissions even while air travel demand soars.”

Today’s proposal says the exemption of flights to and from Europe, which represent three-quarters of the sector’s emissions [1], can be reviewed should the offsetting deal agreed by UN aviation body ICAO continue to disappoint. Only 67 countries have so far signed up with Russia, and India and potentially China set to sit on the sidelines. Decisions on quality criteria for offset programmes have yet to be taken though the US and industry are pushing for the cheapest and weakest offsets possible.

The proposal does envisage a tightening of the cap after 2021 for that part of the aviation sector which remains covered. This is welcome and long overdue  but T&E cautioned that it is only one small step towards reining in aviation’s special treatment. The sector receives €40 billion in tax exemptions a year [2] while the EU ETS only costs a fraction of this.

Despite an ongoing obligation to act, the proposal continues to ignore the substantial non-CO2 effects of aviation, which having a warming impact equal or greater to the CO2 effects of flying.  

Bill Hemmings concluded: “Reducing aviation’s emissions cap fixes a bizarre situation where we had a cap and trade system with no declining cap. It needs to be backed up with a more comprehensive plan to cut the proliferation of subsidies and tax breaks enjoyed by the sector. Without concerted action, the sector will continue to be a deadweight on the Europe’s efforts to cut emissions.”

 

Notes to editors:

[1] https://www.transportenvironment.org/news/aviation-emissions-trading-slashed-75-until-2017

[2] T&E, Does aviation pay its way? (2013)

https://www.transportenvironment.org/publications/does-aviation-pay-its-way


Contact the press team

Nico Muzi
Communications Director
+32 (0)484 27 87 91 
nico.muzi@transportenvironment.org

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