EC freezes ETS for airlines flying to and from Europe till November 2013 progress by ICAO

The EU has announced that it will delay the date by which airlines have to pay for their emissions on flights to and from Europe. This is very disappointing  news. However, they will only delay until there is progress by ICAO on producing a global deal on aviation emissions. If there is not adequate progress by ICAO when it meets in November 2013, the EU ETS will continue to include international aviation, as it does now. Flights within Europe remain in the ETS as before – whether by EU airlines or non-EU airlines – the change is only for flights to and from the EU. Connie Hedegaard, announcing the change, said EU member states will still have to formally endorse the Commission’s exemption for non-EU carriers. The change has occurred because of intense pressure from countries such as the USA, India and China – and lobbying from Airbus on fears the ETS is causing it to lose plane salesChina and India have far more to lose than us if they start a trade war, because they export far more to us than we export there. Nonetheless, the EU and UK have meekly conceded to blackmail from China instead of doing the right thing. We understand that David Cameron was lobbying the EU to defer ETS. It demonstrates, yet again, the UK and EU leaders prefer to sacrifice action on climate change in favour of narrow business interests.  The EC has repeatedly said it only included aviation in the ETS after more than a decade of inaction at the ICAO. Unfortunately the concessions made by the EC are much larger than required,  and there is no expectation that ICAO will come up with anything worthwhile in the next year – but on the positive side, the EC can no longer be accused of not doing anything in response to voluble continuing criticism over its approach to aviation and climate change. 


On 16/11/2012 leading environment journalist, Sonja Van Renssen, met with Director General for Climate Action, Jos Delbeke, to discuss aviation and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).  He explains the position.

Video clip




EU Commission freezes EU carbon emissions law for airlines


Nov 12, 2012 (Reuters)

European Commission backs down on EU ETS and agrees to 'stop the clock' on international aviation emissions

The European Union will put on hold its rule that all airlines must pay for their emissions on flights to and from Europe, but will resume enforcement if a U.N. airline body  (ICAO)fails to deliver a global deal, Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said.

[This should have said :  “All airlines on intra-EU routes will have to submit allowances. All airlines on routes to/from EU do not need to submit].

EU airlines will still have to pay for their carbon emissions under existing rules and EU member states will still have to formally endorse the Commission’s exemption for non-EU carriers, Connie Hedegaard said.

She added that she had informed representatives of the 27 member states of the Commission’s plan.

The European Union has come under intense international pressure to tear up its law making all airlines using EU airports buy carbon allowances on its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

The Commission, the EU’s executive, has repeatedly said it will only change its rules if the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) can agree an alternative scheme to help curb rising airline emissions.

“To create a positive atmosphere, we have agreed to stop the clock,” Hedegaard told a news briefing on Monday.

“If this exercise ends in nothing, we are back to exactly where we were with the EU ETS automatically,” she said, adding that this would give the U.N. airlines body, the ICAO, until  November 2013  to strike a new deal.

The Commission has repeatedly said it only put its law in place after more than a decade of inaction at the ICAO.

.”Nobody wants an international framework on aviation more than we do,” Hedegaard said. “For the first time in years a global deal should be in reach.”


–   All airlines on intra-EU routes will have to submit allowances                                                  –   All airlines on routes to/from EU do not need to submit


AirportWatch comment:
These  proposals mean
1). the concession that has been made is bigger than necessary
2). it is impossible to blame the EU now for lack of progress as they have made a large concession to countries opposed to the inclusion of aviation in the ETS
3). The US should take lead.
4). There will be co-decision on this …the aviation industry will now set about trying to make it a permanent suspension not just for one year, so this will run and run.

European Commission

This has been brought forward by the EC because a bill by the US is likely later this week, to ban US airlines from paying into the ETS.  The EC did not want to put out their statement after that, as it would look as if they had suddenly been forced to capitulate, because of the US move. The ICAO had to make their announcement on Friday, in order to let the  EC make its announcement on Monday. We will wait to see what happens with the US law later in the week.



See also long and comprehensive article from GreenAir online at

European Commission backs down on EU ETS and agrees to ‘stop the clock’ on international aviation emissions



On ETS deferment news, green NGOs say “No more excuse towards a global measure to cut aviation’s emissions”

Date added: November 12, 2012

The formal proposal, which will likely be released in a few weeks, will allow airlines to surrender CO2 allowances by April 2014 and not by April 2013, as originally foreseen. With the new announcement by the EC today, in delaying implementation of the ETS, a press release from Transport & Environment in Brussels (speaking for green NGOs involved in aviation, such as the Aviation Environment Federation, and WWF UK) says it is vital that the one-year deferral does not end up as a definitive one. This is definitely a deferral rather than a suspension – the aviation industry will lobby very hard on this, trying to get it made permanent. The green NGOs think today’s concession is bigger than necessary, because it is more than commensurate with the limited progress made in last Friday’s ICAO Council meeting towards a global market-based mechanism (MBM) to address greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation. The environmental groups say no excuse is left for ICAO to come up with a concrete and global measure at its triennial assembly in September-October 2013.

Click here to view full story…





This is the MEMO  produced from the EC from Brussels, 12 Nov 2012

Stopping the clock of ETS and aviation emissions following last week’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Council

EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard said:

“The EU has always been very clear: nobody wants an international framework tackling CO2-emissions from aviation more than we do. Our EU legislation is not standing in the way of this. On the contrary, our regulatory scheme was adopted after having waited many years for ICAO to progress. Now it seems that because of some countries’ dislike of our scheme many countries are prepared to move in ICAO, and even to move towards a Market Based Mechanism (MBM) at global level.

Very good news came from the ICAO Council last Friday. Among other things, it was agreed that:·

.   A high level policy group will be set up shortly

·  Options for a regulatory MBM will have to be reduced from three to one.

·   And there is an explicit reference to the global MBM that the world now needs to agree on.

In short, finally we have a chance to get an international regulation on emissions from aviation. This is a long sought for opportunity that we must use. This is progress! But actually to get there, a lot of tough negotiations lie ahead of us.In order create a positive atmosphere around these negotiations, I’ve just recommended in a telephone conference with the 27 Member States that the EU “stops the clock” when it comes to enforcement of the inclusion of aviation in the EU ETS to and from non-European countries until after the ICAO General Assembly next autumn.But let me be very clear: if this exercise does not deliver – and I hope it does, then needless to say we are back to where we are today with the EU ETS. Automatically.

So we are creating this window of opportunity, this great chance. I can only recommend to all Parties to engage urgently in taking this issue forward. Now it is the time for paving the way for strong decisions to be taken by the next ICAO General Assembly. The European Union will engage fully and will work closely with the ICAO leadership. We are convinced others will do as well.”

Stopping the clock for one year

Based on the encouraging results of the ICAO Council meeting 9 November – and the constructive engagement of our international partners in the relevant discussions – the EU is convinced that a global solution for addressing the fast growing aviation emissions from international aviation is within reach at the upcoming ICAO Assembly in 2013. As a gesture of good faith the EU will “stop the clock” on the implementation of the international aspects of its ETS aviation by deferring the obligation to surrender emissions allowances from air traffic to and from the EU by one year. This means that the EU would not require allowances to be surrendered in April 2013 for emissions from such flights during the whole of 2012. The monitoring and reporting obligations will also be deferred for such flights. The obligations relating to all operators’ activities within EU will remain intact and compliance with the EU law will be enforced in this respect.

“Stopping the clock” creates space for the political negotiations and demonstrates confidence on the side of the EU that together with international partners we will succeed in ICAO to agree on meaningful international action. This means the ICAO process is allowed time until the 2013 Assembly in September/October next year and that no compliance will be expected as regards air traffic outside the EU in the interim.

It goes without saying that in the unlikely event of the ICAO Assembly failing to move forward the EU ETS legislation would be applied in full again from 2013 onwards.


The EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) was established in 2003 by Directive 2003/87/EC and started operation on 1 January 2005. Initially the EU ETS included only land based industrial installations. From 1 January 2012 aviation activities of aircraft operators that operate flights arriving at and departing from Community aerodromes will also be included in the scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community. The legislation covers 30 States including the 27 EU Member States and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Full press conference (13 minute video clip) available here:




See also more on this story:

European Commission puts aviation carbon scheme on hold


European Commission plans to force airlines to buy carbon permits have been put on hold, heading off the threat of a global aviation trade war.  Commissioner Hedegaard said: “To create a positive atmosphere, we have agreed to stop the clock”.  She also set ICAO 12 month to come up with its own scheme, warning the EU would resurrect its own plans if it failed to do so.   The airlines had to account for all carbon emitted from January 2012, with the first payment deadline coming up in April 2013. Third countries such as the United States, Russia and China have said this amounts to an illegal tax.  A spokesman for WWF  UK added: “The Commission’s move on aviation in the ETS buys some time for ICAO, who were arguably galvanised into action by the EU in the first place after years of foot-dragging on this issue.  Now it’s up to other countries which have been opposing action on tackling the climate impacts of aviation, especially the United States, to show that they are serious about pushing for a global solution. This is a great chance for ICAO members to show leadership and push for a global agreement on this issue.” Foreign airlines will need to continue accounting for their emissions, but will not be subject to any payment during the freeze.