MEPs back the EU “Stop the Clock” proposal to delay inclusion of non-EU flights in ETS for one year

The European Parliament’s Environment Committee has voted in support of the EU Commission’s “Stop-the-Clock” proposal which delays the inclusion of flights to and from Europe from the EU ETS for just one year.  This is conditional on progress being made by ICAO and the aim of the delay is to give ICAO time to negotiate a global agreement to address emissions from international aviation by autumn 2013, and they should have a realistic timetable through which to apply it.  The one year suspension could only be extended if « clear and sufficient » progress is made within ICAO.  Funds generated by the ETS would be used for a variety of measures to cut carbon emissions. The European Parliament Environment Committee also rejected a proposal on the offset limit for flights within the EU. This proposal would have allowed intra-European flights to offset nearly 100% of their reduction obligations, while adding about 20 million international credits into the EU ETS.



MEPs want ETS exception for intercontinental flights and progress in ICAO

26-02-2013  (European Parliament)
Committee : Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

A proposal temporarily to suspend the EU CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for intercontinental flights, so as to enable International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to agree worldwide measures, was backed by the Environment Committee on Tuesday.

MEPs stressed that this exception to the ETS is conditional upon progress at the ICAO and earmarked ETS revenues for efforts to tackle climate change. The ETS will continue to apply to flights between EU airports.

“Today’s vote is a clear signal that the European Union wants an international solution. There are no more excuses for third countries not to engage in the issue. Third countries have given the impression that it is the European Union that stands in the way, but we shall see if they have enough commitment. I appeal especially to US President Obama, who has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize inter alia for his commitment to tackle climate change and to Secretary of State Kerry who introduced the Kerry-Lieberman bill in the Senate which paved the way for emissions trading for the US economy including aviation. They could lose all the credibility if they continue opposing a solution in this important area”, said rapporteur Peter Liese (EPP, DE).

The “stop the clock” proposal would temporarily exempt airlines from the ETS requirement to report carbon emissions for  flights between EU airports and third countries, and sanctions would not be imposed for failure to report.

In their amendments, MEPs say that the exception made for intercontinental flights should apply for a maximum of one year, which could be prolonged only if « clear and sufficient » progress is made within the ICAO.

Meanwhile, the Montreal-based ICAO should agree on a global system instead, with a realistic timetable for applying it, they add.

Moreover, to build international confidence in the EU ETS, EU member states should use revenue from auctioning  allowances to cut CO2 emissions, adapt to the effects of climate change, and fund research and low-emission transport schemes, MEPs say.

Towards bluer skies at the ICAO?

Politically,  the proposal aims to create an incentive  for this year’s ICAO meeting to agree on a global mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation and demonstrate the EU’s determination to make it work.

ICAO parties made some progress towards agreeing on an equivalent to the EU ETS at a meeting on  9 November 2012, and MEPs believe that a global, market-based measure to reduce international aviation emissions could be agreed at the next ICAO assembly in September 2013.

The report drafted by Peter Liese (EPP, ED) was approved by 50 votes to 0, with 8 abstentions. The committee also voted to open negotiations with EU ministers, by 51 votes  to 2,  with 5 abstentions.

Next steps

The plenary vote is to be taken during the 15-18 April session in Strasbourg.

In the chair: Matthias Groote (S&D, DE)


There had been a serious question over Switzerland – basically flights to/from Switzerland were not included in the derogation (i.e. allowances still needed to be submitted for flights from Berlin to Geneva) under the Commission proposal. Some of the MEPs proposed exempting these flights. But a compromise was reached to say that it will be discussed at the highest level  – so the exemption didn’t not go through.

The Parliament rejected extending the offsets that airlines can submit (contrary to the TRAN  (Transport) committee) so only 15% of allowances can be offsets, rather than up to almost 100% if the bad amendments had gone through.

Use of offsets (meaning buying offsets from countries outside the EU, as in the Clean Development Mechanism, CDM) means carbon cuts are meant to be made by other countries, rather than the EU.  They are therefore not EU carbon cuts. Their use needs to be strictly limited, or reduced in order for the EU to make actual carbon emissions itself. Merely buying credits from elsewhere is missing the point.

Also the committee voted for an amendment which affirms that aviation is too privileged and gets too much State Aid, and also doesn’t pay any fuel tax or VAT.  Green NGOs had not thought this had any hope of getting through, so this was a pleasant surprise.  The Commission are revising the State Aid guidelines at the moment and there will be more news on this in coming months.



European Parliament’s Environment Committee rejects allowing more offsets for aviation industry

Brussels, (Carbon Market Watch)

26 February 2013.

Today, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted in support of the EU Commission’s “Stop-the-Clock” proposal which derogates flights to and from Europe from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) for one year to give enough time to negotiate a global agreement for addressing emissions from international aviation by autumn 2013.

In the same vote the Committee has rejected a proposal related to the offset limit. This proposal would have allowed intra-European flights to offset nearly 100% of their reduction obligations, while adding about 20 million international credits into the EU ETS.

“We strongly commend the Committee for rejecting the proposal as it would have done nothing to save the climate and only invite more artificial industrial gas carbon credits into the EU ETS. This in turn would have further flooded an already heavily over-supplied ETS” said Carbon Market Watch Director Eva Filzmoser. “We now look forward to a global deal by ICAO, with strong quality provisions for international offsets”.

International credits are responsible for two-thirds of the current EU ETS oversupply. The use of offsets has recently been criticised in lacking environmental integrity and further undermining the EU ETS. In response to these concerns, the EU has implemented a ban of industrial gas offset credits (from HFC-23 and N2O adipic acid projects) which will come into force in May 2013.



Eva Filzmoser, Director
Carbon Market Watch




Carbon Market Watch view on ‘backloading’ proposal

19 Feb 2013 (Carbon Market Watch)

Brussels, 19 February 2013.  

Along with European environmental NGOs Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Greenpeace and WWF, Carbon Market Watch welcomes the European Parliament Environment Committee’s support for the proposal to temporarily curb the oversupply of emission allowances in the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS). This ‘backloading’ proposal will go some way to mitigate the severe problems faced by the EU’s carbon market, which has so far failed to dissuade polluters due to the hopelessly low cost of allowances.

Carbon Market Watch Director Eva Filzmoser commented “although a first step in the right direction, the backloading proposal will do little to improve the effectiveness of the Emissions Trading Scheme without deep structural reforms. International credits are responsible for two thirds of the EU ETS over-supply. Both, qualitative and quantitative restrictions are needed  to address the threat these credits are posing to the EU ETS. In addition, the oversupply of surplus allowances need to be permanently cancelled and stronger emission reduction targets for 2030 are needed.”  

View the Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Greenpeace and WWF ‘S related joint statement here.