Peter Liese MEP seeks to strengthen draft EU directive on aviation in the ETS

The European Parliament’s environment committee rapporteur, Peter Liese, wants to tighten an EU directive on aviation in the EU ETS.  The German liberal MEP, who is steering the draft directive through Parliament, is backing the EC’s compromise proposal, while proposing amendments to further strengthening the ETS. Peter Liese is advising the EU to revise its relevant legislation by 2016, not 2020, to put more pressure on ICAO to reach a global deal sooner rather than later.  ICAO agreed in October to develop a global MBM to reduce aviation CO2 emissions, at its next general assembly in 2016. That could take effect in 2020. But European trust in the ICAO outcome is waning, as its record on action on CO2 in the past is dismal. Liese said: “….it is not at all sure that the ICAO Assembly in 2016 will really succeed to adopt clear rules for the MBM.” His draft proposal is effectively threatening the ICAO that the EU will revert to a full ETS from 2017 if global agreement is not reached. Already aviation gets special treatment in the ETS as only 15% of its permits are auctioned (higher % for other sectors) and the cap on emissions is only 5% lower, while other sectors have to reduce their emissions by 21% from their 1990 level by 2020. Environmental organisations reacted warmly. 




MEP seeks to strengthen draft EU aviation emissions law

29 November 2013 (Euractiv)

Environmental groups have welcomed proposals by the European Parliament’s environment committee rapporteur, Peter Liese, who wants to tighten an EU directive incorporating aviation within the bloc’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), despite rumbles of dissent from low-fare airlines.

The dispute between the EU and third countries over making airlines pay for their carbon emissions is far from being resolved.

But the German liberal MEP Peter Liese, who is steering the draft directive through Parliament, is backing the European Commission’s compromise proposal, while proposing amendments aimed at further strenghtening it.

These were welcomed by green campaign group Transport and Environment (T&E).

“MEP Liese’s report puts a minimum of environmental effectiveness back into an unambitious Commission proposal,” Aoife O’Leary, the aviation campaigner at T&E told EurActiv.

Reintroducing full ETS from 2017

While the current EU proposal compromised “between two extremes”, Liese said, parts of it were weak. He is advising the EU to shorten a deadline for revising its relevant legislation from 2020 to 2016 to put more pressure on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to reach a global deal sooner rather than later.

Until last year, the EU had insisted that all international airlines transiting EU airspace pay a small carbon charge for their emissions. But under pressure from the US, which authorised its airlines to disobey the scheme – and countries such as China and India which actively flouted it – the EU ‘stopped the clock’ on the proposal to give the ICAO more time to reach a global deal.

The UN’s civil aviation body agreed in October to develop a global market-based mechanism (MBM) to reduce emissions, at its next general assembly in 2016. That mechanism could take effect in 2020.

But European trust in the talks’ outcome is waning. The assembly was tasked with devising such a scheme under the Kyoto Protocol but never did so. Promises it made on aviation emissions in 2001 were also not delivered, Liese regretted.

He said: “Unfortunately, the resolution includes a lot of conditions and preconditions. Therefore, it is not at all sure that the ICAO Assembly in 2016 will really succeed to adopt clear rules for the MBM.”

By reducing the timeframe in his draft proposal, the rapporteur is effectively threatening the ICAO that the EU will revert to a full ETS from 2017 if global agreement is not reached.

Environmental organisations reacted warmly. “The Commission will have to come forward with a new and more sustainable proposal. There are no excuses to give ICAO more time,” T&E’s O’Leary commented.

Equal treatment, really?

Liese also sought to redress generous tax dispensations that Europe’s aviation industry currently receives, by asking for an increase in the amount of its emissions auctioned under the ETS, and a stricter cap.

“The level of auctioning in the aviation ETS is only 15% compared to an average of 40% for the rest of the industry. The cap is only 5% while other parts of the industry have to reduce their emissions by 21% by 2020,” Liese said to justify his amendments.

In 2008, the European Parliament called for the equal treatment of all transport sectors.

But while the current proposals may seem like a push for more equal treatment between sectors, low fares airlines that operate almost exclusively inside the EU airspace, such as Ryanair or EasyJet, feel penalised.

John Hanlon, the secretary general of the European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA), told EurActiv that “ELFAA cannot support the attempt to address the loss of environmental effectiveness of these flawed decisions by the EU, in contravention of the findings of the Court of Justice of the EU, by seeking to further penalise intra-EU operators through adjustment of the level of auctioning, an annual reduction of allowances and amendment of the cap”.

For low-cost airlines a “reversion to full scope ETS is the real way to remedy the reduction in environmental effectiveness, instead of the attempt to inflict further discriminatory and distortive penalties on those operators and their end-customers, EU citizens”, Hanlon added.

Liese, however, denied such accusations, saying that the latest figures showed that the current legislation’s “cost for Ryanair has been €0.03 per passenger, €0.11 for EasyJet”.

Call for a swift adoption

The rapporteur has urged MEPs to adopt the amended legislation on aviation greenhouse gas emissions by April 2014, to avoid a prolongation of ‘stop the clock’.

Liese, who is a member of the centre-right group EPP in the Parliament, is confident that his group will back the proposal. Socialist and Democrats are also likely to back the deal.


  • January 2014: Vote in Environment Committee on the draft report
  • April 2014: Vote in Plenary
  • 2016: ICAO Assembly to come back on global MBM to reduce emissions




Peter Liese says amending the ETS to just apply to EU airspace until 2020 is for too long. ICAO are supposed to agree in 2016 after all.

EU Lawmaker Liese to Seek Changes to Draft Aviation Carbon Law

By Ewa Krukowska

November 20, 2013 (Bloomberg News)

European Union lawmaker Peter Liese plans to propose changes to a draft law on emissions from airlines to shorten the period in which curbs on international carriers are limited to the bloc’s airspace.

Liese, a German member of the European Parliament who oversees the aviation measure in the assembly, said in an interview he wants to present his amendments on Nov. 27 in Brussels. The draft law that he wants to be changed was proposed by the European Commission last month and would narrow the scope of greenhouse-gas curbs on flights to and from the region’s airports from next year through 2020.

The aim was to keep pressure on nations worldwide to agree on a deal to cut aviation emissions. The EU also wanted to scale down the risk of a trade war after the original design of the bloc’s carbon market, which covered emissions the entire length of all flights to and from European airports, triggered opposition from the U.S. to Russia and India.

“I will support the commission’s approach in general but I don’t think we need to wait that long and give other countries time until 2020 to move,” Liese said in an interview in Warsaw yesterday. “The International Civil Aviation Organization pledged to aim for a deal in 2016. Either we have an agreement and then our law will change accordingly or we don’t and we return to full emission curbs.”

Stop the Clock

ICAO, which is the United Nations aviation agency, agreed on Oct. 4 in Montreal on a roadmap to a decision on a global carbon measure at its next triennial assembly. It also declined to validate the EU carbon market, calling instead on member states to engage in consultations when designing new or implementing existing emission-reduction programs.

The outcome of the ICAO meeting was weaker than expected by the EU, which was seeking approval of carbon programs run in regional airspace, such as its 53 billion-euro ($71.7 billion) Emissions Trading System. To facilitate talks in the UN agency, Europe suspended carbon curbs on foreign flights from 2012, the year of the expansion of the cap-and-trade program into aviation. That is known as the stop-the-clock initiative.

Under the latest proposal by the commission, which followed the ICAO assembly, stop-the-clock provisions will be extended until the end of 2013 before the carbon program is limited to European airspace. It will still be less stringent than originally designed after countries including Russia and India flagged the risk of a trade war. Airbus SAS said in June that 27 orders fromChina for Airbus A330 wide-body jetliners are still in limbo after the government there froze the contracts as part of a campaign against the EU plans.

Under Pressure

“Now the commission is under pressure from two sides: low-cost airlines want the original legislation to be restored and Airbus argues for prolonging stop-the-clock,” Liese said. “The commission proposal is balanced in between.”

The draft legislation is in line with international law, according to Liese. “It may be against the letter of the ICAO resolution of October but this resolution is not binding and many countries, including the EU members, made reservation on the respective part,” he said.

Europe, which wants to lead the global fight against climate change, included airlines in its carbon market last year after aviation emissions in the region doubled over two decades. Companies in the system are subject to a decreasing cap on their emissions and have to submit allowances by the end of April each year to cover discharges for the previous year.

There will be an extraordinary two-year compliance cycle for airlines from 2013 through 2014, according to the commission proposal. Allowances for emissions in those two years need to be surrendered by April 30, 2015. Carriers in the ETS are given free emission permits making up 85 percent of the industry cap and have to buy the remaining 15 percent at auctions.

The proposed legislation also reflects special exemptions for flights to and from developing states, as agreed by ICAO. Routes to and from those states whose share of international civil aviation is less than 1 percent should not be subject to carbon-market measures until a global program is implemented, ICAO decided earlier this month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ewa Krukowska in Warsaw at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lars Paulsson at