Environmental NGOs write to European Commission asking that they do not allow CORSIA to replace the ETS for aviation
AEF, along with Carbon Market Watch and Transport & Environment, recently wrote to the European Commission to warn against any decision taken to exclude aviation from the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) before details of ICAO’s offsetting scheme (known as CORSIA) have been firmly established. The EU ETS covers only intra-EU flights and requires airlines to surrender sufficient carbon permits to cover their CO2 emissions in the previous year. CORSIA (Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation), a global market-based measure, was agreed in 2016 and its first phase is due to come into effect in 2021. Under CORSIA, operators will be expected to buy carbon credits equivalent to the additional carbon the sector emits above its 2020 level, for international flights globally. The aviation industry would like to see CORSIA take over from the ETS and replace it, as it is weaker and less effective in reducing CO2 emissions. The NGO’s letter asks that the European Commission should not allow CORSIA to replace the ETS for aviation, as CORSIA has many unresolved issues and well as “environmental weakness and lack of alignment with European climate ambition”.
Aviation industry calls to replace EU ETS are premature
AEF, along with Carbon Market Watch and Transport & Environment, recently wrote to the European Commission to warn against any decision taken to exclude aviation from the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) before details of ICAO’s offsetting scheme (known as CORSIA) have been firmly established.
The EU ETS covers intra-EU flights and requires airlines to surrender sufficient carbon permits to cover their carbon emissions in the previous year. The aviation sector’s emission are capped under the ETS, with each airline receiving an initial allocation of permits free of charge.
Airlines who exceed this allowance, can purchase additional permits from other airlines or from companies in other sectors who have surplus. CORSIA (Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation), a global market-based measure, was agreed in 2016 and its first phase is due to come into effect in 2021. Under CORSIA, operators will be expected to buy carbon credits equivalent to the additional carbon the sector emits above its 2020 level. Unlike the EU ETS, CORSIA will cover international flights globally, rather than just those operating within Europe.
The joint letter, which can be read here, responds to a call by industry bodies to “align” the EU ETS with CORSIA, with the hope that the former system will cease once CORSIA becomes operational in 2021. The call is premature and should be rejected outlines the NGO letter, “given CORSIA’s unresolved issues, its environmental weakness and lack of alignment with European climate ambition”.
12 th September 2018
Vice President Šefčovič, Commissioner Violeta Bulc, Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete European Commission, Rue de la Loi 200 1049 Brussels, Belgium
CORSIA & European climate ambition on aviation
Dear Vice President Šefčovič, Commissioner Bulc, Commissioner Arias Cañete
EU aviation emissions increased 96% from 1990 to 2016, and are now 3.6% of EU emissions. These emissions are included in the EU 2030 target, and ambitious action is required to ensure the target is achieved.
ICAO’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme (CORSIA) for International Aviation is the primary measure which the Commission is pursuing. Draft rules, known as SARPs, have been adopted by the ICAO Council and sent to states for a response. States have been given until October 22nd to provide an initial response to the SARP, and December 1st to notify of any differences to be filed. The Commission will propose a common position for member states to adopt.
This takes place against the background that environmental safeguards in the CORSIA have been progressively weakened since 2016. European NGOs active in ICAO (EuroICSA) wish to make it clear that EU member states are in no position to respond to the SARP provisions at this time because, under EU law, it is the clear responsibility of the Council and European Parliament to first undertake a review of the EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and CORSIA provisions as set out in the 2017 revision to the ETS Directive1 .
Any reply proposed by the Commission should reserve European and member state positions through filing a general difference to protect Europe’s right to meet its legal obligations including domestic laws and its obligations under international law, in particular the Paris Agreement.
The Commission and member states have an obligation to respect EU and international law. Any premature or uncritical response to ICAO by Europe would be condemned as a serious breach of Europe’s legal obligations and all means available seized to challenge such a move.
We support the development of a Delegated Act to amend certain non-essential elements of the MRV provisions in the aviation ETS subject to the clear condition that any changes solely increase accuracy, transparency and accountability of reporting, in no way reduce any functionalities of existing ETS legislation, and are without prejudice to any future decision as regards participation in the CORSIA.
1 Art 28b, Regulation 2017/2392
Given CORSIA’s unresolved issues, its environmental weakness and lack of alignment with European climate ambition, industry calls to replace the EU ETS are premature and must be rejected. Such a move would also constitute a breach of Europe’s obligations under the Paris Agreement, which has a target for outbound aviation emissions and which excludes the use of international credits. CORSIA breaches both of these commitments, and therefore relying on it as the sole measure to address aviation emissions would constitute backsliding in ambition, which the Paris Agreement prohibits.
A requirement to replace the EU ETS, with its more ambitious target and reliance on allowances, with the CORSIA which has a weaker target and relies on offsets of as yet unknown quality and which count for zero towards climate targets under EU law, would itself constitute a breach of the Paris Agreement’s Article 3 no backsliding provision. The ETS as currently functioning has secured 100% compliance from over 500 carriers.
ICAO member states have until 2020 to indicate whether they will participate in the first voluntary phases of CORSIA. This decision must await the CORSIA review under the ETS legislation. We wish to make it clear that no decision on volunteering for CORSIA should be made until after this review. There is the option to volunteer all flights or none, or just flights to and from Europe, thus excluding flights between EU states.
In all its dealings with ICAO, Europe must defend its prerogative to go beyond lowest-common denominator international agreements and protect its ability to meet and strengthen provisions to fulfil its existing and future Paris Agreement commitments.
We urge you to condition any work to support or implement CORSIA solely in accordance with EU and international law, and in a manner which reaffirms Europe’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and its transition to a zero carbon economy.
For the reasons outlined above, we call on you to:
– To reject any calls from industry to replace the EU ETS with the CORSIA
– To delay a response to ICAO about the SARP draft rules and the voluntary participation in CORSIA until the completion of the ETS review, as mandated by the ETS Directive.
Executive Director, Transport & Environment firstname.lastname@example.org
Tim Johnson, Director, Aviation Environment Federation email@example.com
Eva Filzmoser , Executive Director, Carbon Market Watch eva.Filzmoser@carbonmarketwatch.org