EU’s aviation emissions ETS law ‘puts Europe’s global power to the test’, MEPs say
Euractiv reports that members of the European Parliament and industry representatives say the ETS for aviation is rapidly turning into a “political question of the EU’s influence on the world stage”. There will be a key vote by the European Parliament’s environment committee on 30th January. The Parliament’s rapporteur on aviation ETS, Peter Liese MEP, has threatened to block the EU’s efforts to amend the existing legislation if the EC does not mention which countries have undermined the ETS so far. There remain foreign carriers operating intra-EU flights without paying their ETS share, including Air China (Athens – Munich) and China Eastern (Frankfurt – Hamburg) and even intra-German ones. Airbus stakeholder states – the UK, France and Germany – have surrendered to “economic blackmail” from China, which threatened to no longer buy Airbus planes if the EU carried on with its legislation. Peter Liese is pushing the EC to shorten its current 2020 deadline and revert to a full-scope ETS from 2016, if no agreement on global measures is found in ICAO. T&E commented that “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.”
Aviation emissions law ‘puts Europe’s global power to the test’, MEPs say
The emissions trading system (ETS) for aviation is rapidly turning into a “political question of the EU’s influence on the world stage”, members of the European Parliament and industry representatives said on Thursday (23 January), ahead of a key vote in the Parliament’s environment committee on 30 January.
The Parliament’s rapporteur on aviation ETS, Peter Liese MEP, has threatened to block the EU’s efforts to amend the existing legislation if the European Commission does not mention which countries have undermined the EU scheme.
The Commission had previously confirmed that there was “politically-motivated noncompliance” among some EU member states, but did not mention any of them by name, despite insistent questions from MEPs.
>> Read also: MEP seeks to strengthen draft EU aviation emissions law
“I am frankly shocked how little attention member states pay to this,” Liese told the audience on 23 January in the EU Parliament. “In this situation, I’m not ready to conclude a trilogue when we don’t know at all whether the current legislation is being implemented or not,” he continued, referring to foreign carriers who are operating intra-EU flights without paying their share.
In 2012, the EU began applying its emissions trading scheme to all airlines using EU airports. But strong opposition from the US, China, Russia and other countries, led the EU to freeze the scheme and reduce its scope to airlines operating only inside the EU’s borders, pending a global agreement at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Airbus under fire
However, it appears that some foreign airlines have circumvented the European rules. At the Parliament meeting, MEPs shared information about Chinese airlines operating intra-EU flights, and even intra-German ones, without complying with the CO2 legislation.
“Air China is flying regularly between Athens and Munich and China Eastern between Frankfurt and Hamburg … without complying,” MEP Satu Hassi explained, calling on the Commission “to make it clear both to the carriers and the member states” that they have to comply with the law.
“When the Chinese refuse to pay for intra-European flights, there should be a strong reaction,” the Finnish Green MEP said. “Imagine if they operated a power plant in Europe without following the rules!” she exclaimed.
For MEPs and green campaigners alike, Airbus stakeholder states – the UK, France and Germany – have surrendered to “economic blackmail” from China, which threatened to no longer buy Airbus planes if the EU carried on with its legislation.
In a 2012 letter to the Chinese government that shocked European lawmakers, Airbus’ CEO, Fabrice Brégier, wrote that he “fully supported the Chinese position regarding EU ETS”, adding that the company was “very active” in “persuading the European Commission” and “ensuring that the Chinese airlines are not unfairly impacted by the scheme.”
“If ICAO does not deliver in a year, we need to stand for what we proposed” said Dutch MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, warning that “this goes much further than aviation” since it is about the EU’s “sovereignty” and “power at global level”.
“If we bend to economic and political pressure, we’ll lose all credibility,” Gerbrandy said.
The Dutch MEP’s position is shared by low-fare airlines which feel penalised by the decision to freeze the scheme for international airlines, since they fly almost exclusively in Europe. John Hanlon, secretary-general of the low fare airlines association (ELFAA), said the EU needed to “make clear that its ultimatum is real” by sticking up for its original decision to revert to full-scope ETS after one year.
Prolonging the freeze beyond that was “not only discriminatory but also environmentally ineffective, capturing only 20% of EU aviation emissions of CO2 while letting long-haul flights off the hook,” Hanlon stressed.
In his draft report, Peter Liese is pushing the Commission to shorten its current 2020 deadline and revert to a full-scope ETS from 2016, if no agreement on global measures is found in ICAO.
Liese said he wanted the EU to use the time left under the freezing decision to impose an earmarking of revenues generated from the auctioning of emission permits, an idea that is not well-received by EU member states.
Currently the money goes “into the finance ministries’ pockets”, the Dutch MEP denounced, while it should be used to “mitigate climate change, for research on clean aircrafts and to lower taxes on environmentally-friendly transport”.
If Liese’s proposal is approved at an environment committee vote later this week, it will face tough opposition from the Council when negotiations start. But the first resistance could well come from inside Parliament, where members of industry-friendly committees, such as transport and industry, could block Liese’s proposal at a plenary vote in March.
Liese is however actively looking for a compromise with his fellow MEPs, he said.
Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at Transport & Environment, an environmental group, 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.”
Some recent ETS news items:
More problems for aviation in the EU ETS as France and Germany will not enforce sanctions for non- compliance
January 24, 2014
German centre-right MEP Peter Liese, the European Parliament’s environment committee rapporteur, wants the European Parliament to refuse to ratify proposed changes to the law on the ETS unless member states start enforcing the existing law. He is supported in this by both the environmental groups, who want better control of aviation carbon emissions, and from a very different perspective, the European Low Fare Airlines Association, which fears that if non-EU airlines are not forced to pay for carbon permits, while EU airlines are, they will be at a competitive disadvantage. Since the freeze (“stop the clock”) ended in October, the Commission proposed to change the legislation so that only the portions of flights taking place within EU airspace would be charged. But France, Germany and the UK are pushing to exempt until 2016 all emissions from any flight that enters or leaves EU airspace. At present the EU is not charging foreign airlines for the flights they operate within EU airspace. These flights are mostly American and Chinese. Liese wants the Parliament to withhold its backing until the regulators start punishing the foreign airlines for not paying their ETS charges. And to do it before May – Germany and France don’t want to do this. Click here to view full story…
Analysis shows 84m tonnes of aviation CO2 covered by EU ETS in 2012 as cargo airlines reap windfalls
January 12, 2014
According an analysis by the organisation “Sandbag”, over 1,169 participating airlines and aircraft operators reported between them a total of 84 million tonnes of CO2 emissions for the first year of aviation’s inclusion in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). Around 89% of eligible operators fully complied with the scheme, representing 98% of intra-EU aviation emissions. 42% of all emissions coming from just 10 EU airlines. Although the one-year ‘Stop the Clock’ (STC) derogation – which started in November 2012 – allowed operators to opt out of having to surrender allowances for extra-EU international flights, a number of major air cargo carriers based inside and outside the EU chose to comply with the full scope of the scheme, enabling them to end 2012 with a windfall, says Sandbag. Also, though the majority of operators have incurred a cost as a result of their inclusion in the EU ETS, Sandbag estimates that Europe’s biggest emitter, Ryanair, stood to reap a windfall in 2012 of around €8 million through its passenger EU ETS levy. Of the 11 million offsets were surrendered, it is estimated that 5.6 million, were to CDM (Clean Development Projects) in China, while the remaining 5.3 million originated from Russia JI (joint implementation) projects – countries implacably opposed to the Aviation EU ETS. Click here to view full story…
NGO letter to governments of France, Germany, & UK on inclusion in ETS of flights in EU airspace
December 20, 2013
France, Germany, and the UK governments have come out jointly to oppose the European Commission’s proposal to amend the aviation ETS to cover emissions from all flights within EU airspace. They want to continue to “stop the clock”, which exempts all long-haul flights. That means 75% of emissions from flights using European airports are uncontrolled or unregulated. Such a move is clearly not motivated by environmental considerations. Four NGOs (Transport & Environment, the Aviation Environment Federation, Réseau Action Climat France, and Bund (Friends of the Earth – Germany) ) have written to French president François Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and UK prime minister David Cameron to express deep concerns about their governments’ continued efforts to weaken aviation ETS. The NGOs are calling on the leaders to urgently withdraw the UK/Germany/France joint proposal and lend their government’s support to base the ETS on regional airspace. They also urge the leaders to support the European Commission’s proposal to ensure enforcement measures are taken against airlines which have failed to comply with their 2012 obligations. Click here to view full story…
More news about the inclusion of aviation in the ETS at