Deal clinched on capping aircraft emissions (start of aviation within the EU ETS)

27.6.2008   (Euractiv)

MEPs and national governments, represented by the EU’s current Slovenian Presidency,
reached a landmark deal yesterday (26 June) on the details of plans to include
aviation in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme as of 2012.

The deal still needs to be formally approved but, according to reports, it would
require all flights, both within the EU as well  as  international ones arriving
or leaving the bloc, to participate in the Union’s carbon cap-and-trade scheme
as of 2012.  

The two-staged approach initially proposed by the Commission in a bid to appease
third countries that are reluctant to be forced into such a scheme – the US in
particular – has therefore been rejected.  

Under the compromise, the number of pollution permits allocated to airlines would
be capped at 97% of average greenhouse gases emitted in 2004-2006 – less ambitious than the 90% cap MEPs in the Environment Committee had demanded,
but more so than the 100% member states had been pushing for.  

This cap would then be lowered to 95% for the 2013-2020 period unless agreement on a different figure is reached during negotiations
on the revised EU Emissions Trading Scheme.  

85% of the permits would still be handed out to operators for free, but the remaining
15% would have to be auctioned.

Airlines wanting to emit more CO2 than the number of allowances they hold will
have to buy extra permits from other companies, encouraging them to invest in
greener technologies.  

Revenues from auctioning would not be earmarked for research on improving efficiency
in the aviation sector or for investment into ‘green’ modes of transport, as demanded
by MEPs,  due to national governments’ strong resistance to such plans.   But the
compromise would ask member states to report on how they spend the money.

The deal, which sources say is likely to be approved after difficult political
negotiations, was immediately slammed by both airlines and green groups.  

“Fifteen percent auctioning in 2012 is unaffordable and unacceptable for our
airlines given today’s high fuel prices and weakening demand,” stated International
Air Carrier Association (IACA) Director General Sylviane Lust, whose organisation
represents airlines serving the holiday industry.  

Green NGO Transport & Environment however said the deal marked an “historic
missed opportunity” that would fail to deliver real reductions in greenhouse gas
emissions. It laid the blame firmly with national governments, which, according
to T&E’s João Vieira, “once again took the side of their flag-carrying airlines”.  



T&E reaction to EU aviation emissions trading agreement

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The European Parliament and EU environment ministers have agreed on a deal to
include aviation in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) in 2012.
The deal still needs to be formally approved.

Commenting on today’s development, João Vieira of T&E said:

“Environmental campaigners have consistently said that this plan must deliver
real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation sector – and this
deal fails to achieve that goal. The policy will offset just one year’s growth
in emissions from the aviation sector, according to the European Commission’s
own analysis.” (1)

“National governments must take the blame for failing to deliver a law that will
actually cut emissions. The European Parliament had asked for a number of measures
that could have resulted in real emissions cuts from aviation but national governments
once again took the side of their flag-carrying airlines.”

“Today we should be marking a historic multilateral deal to cut international
aviation emissions, but in fact we are marking a historic missed opportunity.”

In 2000 air transport accounted for 4 to 9% of the climate change impact of human
activities, the range reflects uncertainty surrounding the effect of cirrus clouds.
 A figure of 2%, often quoted by the aviation industry, applies only to CO2 emissions
and refers to 1992 data.   Aviation has by far the greatest climate impact of any
transport mode, whether measured per passenger kilometre, per tonne kilometre,
per € spent, or per hour travelling. (2)

Emissions from international aviation were excluded from the 1997 Kyoto protocol.
Instead responsibility for cutting emissions was passed to the International Civil
Aviation Organisation (ICAO) that has so far written off or blocked every conceivable
environmental policy for the sector (3).


(1) Aviation emissions would be reduced by 3% based on a CO2 price in the EU-ETS
of €15 per tonne, equivalent to €0.04 per litre of kerosene. These figures are
in line with the European Commission’s Impact Assessment.
(2) See

Clearing the Air: the Myth and Reality of Aviation and Climate Change(3) See No flight plan: how the ICAO has blocked progress on climate change for a decade

See also

EU lawmakers confirm deal on airline CO2 emissions – and airlines react angrily

(Reuters and others)

Links (from Euractiv)

EU official documents 

Industry Federations 


Press articles 

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