Grey day for environment as Europe reduces its aviation ETS coverage to only European airspace
The European Commission has, under intense international pressure, proposed to reduce its ETS for aviation to only cover flights in European airspace. The proposal would only cover 35% of aviation emissions compared to the original aviation EU ETS. It would cover flights by all airlines, except from less developed countries, which contribute 1% or less of global aviation CO2. Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at Transport & Environment, said: “It is disgraceful that foreign and industry pressure has obliged Europe to shrink its own aviation emissions law to the bare minimum.” The EC’s text comes shortly after the conclusion of the ICAO triennial assembly, where delegates, in a political decision, finally agreed to talk about the details of a global market based measure for 2020 but rejected interim measures like the EU ETS. The current proposal would leave the vast bulk of EU aviation emissions – which come from long-haul flights – unregulated. T&E urges the European Parliament and Member States to include an option to extend the aviation emissions coverage of the ETS to a 50/50 basis in 2017.
Grey day for environment as Europe reduces its aviation emissions coverage
Brussels, 16 October (Transport & Environment – T&E)
The European Commission today, under intense international pressure, proposed to reduce its Emissions Trading System (ETS) for aviation to only cover flights in European airspace. The proposal would only cover 35% of aviation emissions compared to the original aviation EU ETS.
Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at Transport & Environment, said: “It is disgraceful that foreign and industry pressure has obliged Europe to shrink its own aviation emissions law to the bare minimum. While aviation emissions are skyrocketing, Europe’s aviation climate measure has had its wings clipped. This is a grey day for the climate and for those that are serious about tackling aviation’s fast-growing warming impact.”
Aviation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector and the most climate-intensive form of transport. Aviation emissions have more than doubled in the last twenty years and the sector accounts for 5% of global warming.
The Commission’s text comes shortly after the conclusion of the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) triennial assembly, where delegates, in a political decision, finally agreed to talk about the details of a global market based measure for 2020 but rejected interim measures like the EU ETS. The Commission’s proposal to restrict regulation to emissions in its airspace acknowledges the concerns of ICAO members but fails to include a fallback provision should the ICAO process fail to agree global implementation details in 2016.
In such a case the EU should make clear that it will regulate intercontinental flights on a 50/50 basis: the first 50% of any departing flight and the last 50% of any arriving flight. As it is, airspace leaves the vast bulk of EU aviation emissions – which come from long-haul flights – unregulated. On a global scale, 78% of aviation emissions would remain uncovered because of flights over international waters.
Aoife O’Leary, aviation policy officer, added: “The ICAO outcome on a global measure is full of holes, and many uncertainties about any deal in 2016 remain. In these circumstances, we urge the European Parliament and Member States to include an option to extend the aviation emissions coverage of the ETS to a 50/50 basis in 2017. Only then will regional measures, like the EU ETS, be environmentally effective.”
From Transport & Environment
Europa EU press releases
Brussels, 16 October 2013
Aviation emissions: Commission proposes applying EU ETS to European regional airspace from 1 January 2014
The European Commission today proposed amending the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS) so that aviation emissions would be covered for the part of flights that takes place in European regional airspace. The adjustment in the legislation would apply from 1 January 2014 and until a planned global market-based mechanism (MBM) becomes applicable to international aviation emissions by 2020, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, said: “In the light of the recent progress made at ICAO, not least thanks to Europe’s hard work and determination, the European Commission today has proposed to adjust the EU ETS so that emissions from the aviation sector would be covered for the part of flights that takes place in European regional airspace. The European Union has reduced greenhouse gas emissions considerably, and all the economic sectors are contributing to these efforts. The aviation sector also has to contribute, as aviation emission are increasing fast – doubling since 1990. I am confident that the European Parliament and the Council will move swiftly and approve this proposal without delay. With this proposal, Europe is taking the responsibility to reduce emissions within its own airspace until the global measure begins”
The key features of the revised ETS system resulting from this proposal would be as follows:
- All emissions from flights between airports in the European Economic Area (EEA, covering the 28 EU Member States plus Norway and Iceland) would continue to be covered.
- From 2014 to 2020, flights to and from countries outside the EEA would benefit from a general exemption for those emissions that take place outside EEA airspace. Only emissions from the part of flights taking place within EEA airspace would be covered.
- To accommodate the special circumstances of developing countries, flights to and from third countries which are not developed countries and which emit less than 1% of global aviation emissions would benefit from a full exemption.
The Commission would like to see the proposal agreed by the European Parliament and Council by March 2014 to provide clarity for aircraft operators, who would otherwise have to surrender allowances for their all emissions on flights in 2013 to and from third countries by 30 April 2014.
A detailed Q&A document can be found here: MEMO/13/905
Diagram below shows the portions of flights that are covered under the proposed ETS system (this excludes flights from airlines not from developed countries). Only some 35% of EU flights – which were covered under the original ETS proposal – are now included in the system.
Below is a small extract from the above webpage:
3.1. What is the geographical scope of the proposal?
Concerning the period 2014 to 2020, the Commission proposes that the EU ETS would continue to fully cover emissions from all flights between airports in the EEA, including flights between airports in the EEA and airports in outermost regions of the EEA4.
In addition, flights between airports in the EEA and airports in third countries would generally be covered in proportion to the distance travelled within the European region. This proportion would cover the distance from 12 nm from the furthest point on the outer coastline of an EEA territory to the EEA aerodrome of departure or arrival with the exception of intermediate distances over third countries or sea areas between EEA Member States’ territories that exceed 400 nautical miles.
Flights between airports in the EEA and airports in least developed countries, low-income countries, and lower-middle income countries, which have a share of less than 1 % in international aviation, are proposed to be fully exempted from the EU ETS.
Emissions from flights between airports in outermost regions and third countries, and emissions from flights between airports in the EEA and EEA Member countries’ overseas countries and territories5, which are not part of the EEA, would not be covered.
The tables in Annex 1 provide an overview for the emissions coverage for all different types of flights.
3.2. In which ways do compliance obligations change for flights to and from third countries?
Flights on routes between airports in the EEA and airports in third countries would only be covered with regard to distance travelled within the EEA:
The proportional coverage for flights to and from third countries would include emissions over land and adjacent sea areas between EEA countries (Channel, Irish Sea, North Sea, Baltic Sea, Mediterranean Sea, etc). However, it would exclude:
- emissions over any third country area (Switzerland, Kaliningrad, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania);
- emissions over further sea areas between Iceland and other EEA Member States; Azores and EEA Member States including mainland Portugal; Canaries and EEA Member States including mainland Spain;
- emissions over sea areas between mainland Europe and dependencies and territories, and over those dependencies and territories (e.g. Greenland and the seas between Greenland and mainland Europe, Faroe Islands and the seas between them and mainland Europe).
This approach would limit coverage to the emissions within the EEA and give equal treatment to flights over the regional European area whether they come from an EEA aerodrome or a third country. These exclusions are considered appropriate to make coverage more acceptable to third countries across the Atlantic because it only extend 12 nautical miles beyond the outer coastlines of UK, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal.
Furthermore, emissions from flights between the outermost regions of the Union as defined in Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and countries outside the EEA would be fully exempted.
Annex 2 contains a graph to illustrate the coverage of 3rd country flights.
3.3. Are there additional exemptions for flights to and from “developing states”?
Without prejudice to the global market-based measure applying from 2020, emissions from flights to and from countries which are developing countries and whose share of total revenue ton kilometres of international civil aviation activities is less than 1% would be exempted for the period 2014 to 2020. Countries considered to be developing for the purposes of this proposal should be those which benefit at the time of adoption of this proposal from preferential access to the Union market in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council, that is those which are not classified in 2013 by the World Bank as high-income or upper-middle income country or are a least developed country.
3.4. What are the changes for the period from 2014 to 2020 compared to obligations for 2012 emissions?
There are two changes compared to the coverage of 2012 emissions:
- Flights to and from third countries are covered in proportion to their distance travelled within the EEA (with the exception of flights to and from least developed countries and low income countries that remain fully exempted).
- Flights to and from Switzerland are only covered in proportion to their distance travelled within the European region.
- Flights to and from overseas countries and territories of EEA member countries are fully exempted.
- ……………. and there is a great deal more. At http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-905_en.htm
European Commission proposes applying EU ETS only to European regional airspace from 1 January 2014
Date added: October 16, 2013
The European Commission has proposed amending the ETS so that aviation emissions would be covered just for the part of flights that takes place in European regional airspace (including over the North Sea or Mediterranean). The adjustment in the legislation would apply from 1 January 2014 and until a planned global market-based mechanism (MBM) becomes applicable to international aviation emissions by 2020, according to ICAO. European Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, said “Europe is taking the responsibility to reduce emissions within its own airspace until the global measure begins’. Also that the aviation sector, like other sectors, has to contribute to cuts in EU carbon emissions, as aviation emission are increasing fast – doubling since 1990. The proposal needs to be agreed by the European Parliament and the Counci, before April 2014. The proposal covers all CO2 emissions from flights between airports in the European Economic Area (EEA), including Norway and Iceland. Parts of flights outside the EEA are not covered, and flights of developing countries – of which their aviation emissions are less than 1% of the global whole – are not included.
and more information about the ETS at