EU Parliament ENVI committee narrowly votes against compromise of extending ETS “Stop the Clock” to 2016
The European Parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI) has very narrowly voted to reject a deal to exempt long-haul flights (those into and out of Europe) from paying for their carbon emissions until the end of 2016 – the so-called “stop the clock” measure. This is intended to prevent the EU from bowing to international pressure from the USA, China, India etc. Currently only intra-EU flights are included, (no long haul) so the only aviation carbon that is being paid for is from these flights. The aviation ETS is the only international climate measure in place today that tackles aviation’s soaring CO2 emissions. The compromise of an extension to 2016 would effectively have dismantled the ETS, and was not the best way forward. The vote was a clear signal to political leaders in member states, industry and foreign countries that the EU’s sovereignty is not to be undermined by external bullying, and threats of trade sanctions. The next stage is for a vote in the full Parliament on 3rd April. If the Parliament agrees to reject the compromise, then the existing law would automatically apply, requiring all flights using EU airports to pay for all their emissions.
EU lawmakers reject deal to exempt foreign flights from emission charges
March 19 2014 (Reuters)
Failure to get final agreement on the compromise before the end of April would be likely to reignite tensions with Europe’s major trading partners, such as China and the United States, and risk a trade war.
But environmentalists are pinning their hopes on a failure, which would mean that an existing law would automatically apply, requiring all flights using EU airports to pay for the entirety of their emissions.
(Reporting by Ben Garside; Editing by Mark Potter)
It was never very likely that this vote could over turn the compromise position. Two other European Parliament committees (Transport and Finance) had already voted for it. But the Environment committee was the lead committee, so its verdict was key. Having a completely hung vote is unprecedented, and means a vote by the whole Parliament is needed soon. The whole Parliament will almost certainly go with the compromise position, as there is too much political difficulty in not doing so.
After the Parliament vote on 3rd April, the ETS will continue as intr-European flights only. This will be reviewed at the very end of 2016, after the ICAO decision in October 2016 on whether it can set up a workable global market based measure to deal with global aviation emissions. It is likely the intra-EU flights position will continue to 2020, but it is possible that a change (weaker or tighter) will be made in 2017. The UK wanted a decision to keep the intra-EU flights as at present until 2020, but other EU countries did not agree to this.
Very few non-European airlines fly between European airports, and those that do have accepted paying for their carbon emissions, as the (tiny) cost of the economic benefits they derive for these flights. The US has agreed that as long as European countries are content to pay for their carbon emissions within Europe, the US will not complain.
Aviation EU ETS agreement to continue with ‘Stop the Clock’ stumbles as Parliament’s ENVI MEPs narrowly vote to reject
Wed 19 Mar 2014 (GreenAir online)
MEPs on the European Parliament’s environment committee (ENVI) today narrowly rejected a compromise agreement reached with EU member states and the European Commission to extend the ‘Stop the Clock’ scope of the Aviation EU ETS until 2016.
The deal, if passed, would have paved the way for the scheme’s scope to be restricted to flights within the European Economic Area (EEA) to allow ICAO room to agree the introduction of a binding global market-based measure (MBM) from 2020.
Green and left of centre ENVI members decided at a party level to reject the deal brokered during trilogue negotiations by the committee’s rapporteur on the legislation, centre-right German MEP Peter Liese.
The deal fell short of an earlier agreement by ENVI members to back a Commission proposal that would see EEA airspace coverage of the emissions from all international flights departing and arriving EEA airports. However, Liese is confident a plenary of the full Parliament next month will vote for the compromise.
The ENVI vote was 29 for and 29 against the agreement but this meant there was no majority to support it and so was therefore deemed rejected.
The rejection is a victory for lobbying group Transport & Environment (T&E), which mounted a concerted campaign in the days leading up to the vote with a slogan aimed at ENVI MEPs to ‘Fly in the face of bullying on the aviation ETS’.
Describing the trilogue agreement as flawed, T&E urged MEPs to back “the more environmentally effective and fair airspace proposal” and not to cave in to international threats from Russia, China and the United States. It argued that as the Commission has stated no enforcement of the scheme was required by EU states until new legislation had been agreed, there was still time for a better deal to be negotiated with member states through the Council. T&E is in favour of the airspace approach.
“The aviation ETS is the only international climate measure in place today that tackles aviation’s soaring emissions,” commented Aoife O’Leary, T&E’s Policy Officer. “The trilogue compromise, which would effectively have dismantled the ETS, was a bad deal and rightly rejected by the Parliament. This decision sends the clear signal to political leaders in member states, to industry and to foreign countries that the EU’s sovereignty is not subject to external bullying.”
However, the rejection of the deal agreed with the Council angered Finnish MEP Eija-Riita Korhola, rapporteur on the legislation for the industry committee (ITRE). “Once again a shameful example of our democracy deficit,” she tweeted of the minority ENVI committee vote.
It was also condemned by the Association of European Airlines (AEA), which represents major carriers in the region. “The ENVI result is most worrying,” said Athar Husain Khan, AEA’s CEO. “ENVI today missed the chance to provide clarity on the way forward for the aviation ETS. If the trilogue agreement is not formally adopted before April 30, the full ETS would be applicable. Given the international controversy around the aviation ETS that we have witnessed during the past years, we believe that a full ETS is not a realistic option and that it would have a negative impact on European airlines, their operations and their employees. Moreover, this move would put at risk the agreement reached during the ICAO Assembly last year and undermine the efforts to reach a global deal on reducing emissions from international aviation.”
The European Regions Airline Association (ERA) said the ENVI vote “only adds to the confusion on the future of the EU ETS.”
ERA Director General Simon McNamara said if the compromise proposal had been voted through it would have created an intra-European trading scheme. “The EU ETS in this format would have had little or no environmental gain and would just penalise European carriers,” he said. “ERA’s position has always been that the entire scheme should have been put on hold for all flights, pending a satisfactory agreement on a global scheme at ICAO level.”
The agreement as it stands, together with any proposed amendments, will likely be put to a plenary session of the full Parliament when it meets on April 3.
According to T&E, Liese must now take the original ENVI position favouring the airspace proposal to the plenary.
However, in a statement after the vote, Liese said he was optimistic the plenary would support the compromise agreement he agreed with the Council rather than the Commission’s airspace proposal supported by ENVI.
“I understand that many colleagues are unhappy with the attitude of member states and the poor ambition of the EU environment and transport ministers on this issue,” he said. “But in politics you have to live with to the reality. The European Parliament itself cannot enforce the legislation and many colleagues who now reject the compromise raised concerns in a debate that even a more limited approach could be implemented. Many of my colleagues unfortunately have not been very coherent in this debate.
“I am confident that my political group [EPP] will table the compromise to plenary and we will support it with an overwhelming majority. Given that colleagues from the other political groups in TRAN [the transport committee] supported an even less ambitious proposal, I am very optimistic that we will have a majority in the plenary. The right signals from the Commission and Council would be helpful in this respect.”
Aviation emissions: Environment MEPs reject informal deal with EU ministers
ENVI Press release – Environment
Draft plans to exempt intercontinental flights’ greenhouse gas emissions from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) until the start of 2017 were rejected by Environment Committee MEPs on Wednesday, even though they had been informally agreed with EU ministers. Parliament as whole will vote on the file on Thursday, 3 April.
Under the proposed revision, as informally agreed with the Greek Presidency of the Council, EU legislation on aviation emissions allowances would cover only intra-EU flights until the start of 2017, and all flights to or from the EU thereafter. The Environment Committee rejected this deal by 29 votes to 29, with no abstentions.
But despite this outcome, Peter Liese (EPP, DE), who is steering the legislation through Parliament, remained “optimistic that the plenary will support the compromise”.
“I understand that many colleagues are unhappy with the attitude of member states and the poor ambition of the EU environment and transport ministers in this issue. But in politics you need to live up with reality. Parliament’s delegation achieved a lot in the negotiations with the Council. Compared to the Commission proposal, the compromise is more ambitious because we go back to full scope in 2016, instead of 2020” he added.
Groote: “MEPs do not like being bullied by third countries”
“Today’s vote simply means that MEPs do not like being bullied by third countries into dismantling EU climate legislation. We are committed to making aviation emission reductions contribute to our climate change policies. We proposed to earmark ETS revenues for climate action, so as to show our partners that the ETS is not a tax but the cornerstone of our climate policy. Unfortunately, EU member states don’t seem to like this idea. As a result, the ETS legislation could be back with full scope after April” said Environment Committee chair Matthias Groote (S&D, DE).
The International Civil Aviation Organization agreed at its 38th assembly to adopt a global market-based measure (MBM) to reduce aviation emissions in 2016, to be implemented by 2020. In response, and in order to further promote the global MBM momentum, the European Commission proposed to reduce the proportion of emissions (from flights to and from countries outside the EU) to which the EU ETS applies for the period up to 2020, when the global MBM begins.
In the chair: Matthias Groote (S&D, DE)
Carbon Market Watch welcomes today’s vote in the European Parliament which rejects a weak deal on aviation emissions trading
19 March 2014, Brussels – Today, the Environment and Public Health Committee (ENVI) in the European Parliament voted against a deal that would have extended the derogation for intercontinental flights from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Carbon Market Watch welcomes the rejection of this bad deal for the climate and calls on the Parliament’s plenary to follow suit on 3 April at the plenary vote.
In a tied and highly controversial vote, the Environment Committee decided to reject the watered down deal following discussions between Member States, the European Parliament and European Commission in early March. The deal reached would have exempted long-haul flights from complying with the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) for four more years until 2016 to allow the international body for civil aviation to draw up a mechanism for emissions from international aviation.
Carbon Market Watch Director Eva Filzmoser commented: ‘We welcome today’s vote as a strong message to deal with international airline emissions as soon as possible and not wait for an international deal that may not be as environmentally effective, presumed to only start from 2020.’
Note to editors:
Aviation is the most carbon intensive mode of transport. If aviation emissions would represent a country it would be the 7th most polluting country in the world.
Read more on aviation emissions:
Policy Brief – Turbulence Ahead: Market Based Measures to reduce Aviation Emissions
Policy Brief – International Aviation: Addressing emissions while respecting equity issues
Some other recent news stories about aviation in the ETS (Emissions Trading System)
EU compromise on inclusion of long haul flights in the ETS faces opposition – vote on 19th March
March 15, 2014
A number of EU politicians plan to vote against a deal to exempt long-haul flights, to and from Europe, from paying for carbon emissions until the end of 2016 in an attempt to prevent the EU from bowing to international pressure. The European Parliament’s 71-member Environment Committee will vote on March 19 on a deal brokered by EU diplomats earlier in March to extend a so-called “stop the clock” measure exempting intercontinental flights from regulation under its ETS. The vote on the 19th will be a preliminary indication of whether the proposal can win enough support in the full 766-strong EU Parliament, a step required before it can become law. If there is no agreement by the end of April, this is likely to reignite tensions with Europe’s major trading partners (US, China, India) and risk a trade war. Failure to reach agreement on continuing to allow flights into and out of the EU not to pay for their carbon emissions would be good news for environmentalists, as it would mean that an existing law that requires all aviation to pay for emissions would automatically apply. There is a lot of internal European politics involved.
Vote on ETS in European Parliament on 19th March on whether “stop the clock” continues to 2016 or 2020
March 13, 2014
MEPs on the European Parliament’s environment committee will next week (19th) be faced with a difficult choice on aviation and the ETS – accept a humiliating surrender to America, Russian and Chinese bullying, or risk a trade war with grave economic consequences. Last week negotiators reached a deal to exempt non-EU airlines from paying for their CO2 emissions, in deference to pressure from Washington, Moscow and Beijing. The EU “stopped the clock” on the scheme, except for intra EU flights, and a decision on the next stage has to be made on when, and if, the carbon emissions from flights to and from the EU can again be included. Sticking with “stop the clock” gives advantages to hub airports just outside EU airspace, such as Istanbul, at the expense of EU competitors. The Parliament is demanding that the exemption should end in 2016 rather than in 2020, and the text agreed with member states says only an ICAO agreement which reduces emissions – rather than just halting the rise in emissions – would meet the conditions to allow carbon from flights to and from the EU to continue to be excluded. The UK wants the 2020 date. If the agreement is passed in the March 19 ENVI meeting, it will be presented at the Parliament’s plenary session on April 3 for a full vote by MEPs. If passed, the regulation will come into immediate effect.
Good 4 min 30 secs video of interview with Peter Liese explaining the situation, and how the ETS will snap back to “full scope”in 2016 if ICAO has not performed, and a key date will be May 2018, when airlines will have to pay:
Peter Liese MEP, rapporteur on Aviation in the EU ETS, talks to environment journalist Sonja van Renssen of viEUws.eu about the provisional trilogue agreement and enforcement of the scheme on non-compliant airlines:
NGOs urge EU governments to take action over EU ETS enforcement against non-compliant foreign airlines
March 3, 2014
European environmental NGOs have formally requested German, Dutch and British authorities responsible for administering the Aviation EU ETS to take necessary action against airlines that failed to comply with the carbon scheme in 2012. The NGOs name airlines Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Air India, Jet Airways, Saudia and Aeroflot as not having submitted carbon permits to cover their intra-European flights that year by the 30 April 2013 deadline. Facing international opposition, the EU temporarily suspended a requirement for airlines to report emissions from intercontinental flights to and from Europe in 2012 under the ‘Stop the Clock’ derogation. Carriers regardless of nationality were still required to comply with the scheme for flights carried out within Europe. The NGOs point out that offenders gain a competitive advantage over compliant airlines if the regulations are not enforced equally and consistently. The NGOs say “It makes no sense and undermines the EU’s position internationally to enforce the ETS partially or in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner.” EU countries must enforce compliance with the ETS in a consistent and fair manner. Click here to view full story…