NGO letter to governments of France, Germany, & UK on inclusion in ETS of flights in EU airspace
France, Germany, and the UK governments have come out jointly to oppose the European Commission’s proposal to amend the aviation ETS to cover emissions from all flights within EU airspace. They want to continue to “stop the clock”, which exempts all long-haul flights. That means 75% of emissions from flights using European airports are uncontrolled or unregulated. Such a move is clearly not motivated by environmental considerations. Four NGOs (Transport & Environment, the Aviation Environment Federation, Réseau Action Climat France, and Bund (Friends of the Earth – Germany) ) have written to French president François Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and UK prime minister David Cameron to express deep concerns about their governments’ continued efforts to weaken aviation ETS. The NGOs are calling on the leaders to urgently withdraw the UK/Germany/France joint proposal and lend their government’s support to base the ETS on regional airspace. They also urge the leaders to support the European Commission’s proposal to ensure enforcement measures are taken against airlines which have failed to comply with their 2012 obligations.
Letter to governments of France, Germany, and the UK regarding Europe’s ETS for aviation
December 19, 2013 (T&E)
France, Germany, and the UK have come out jointly to oppose the European Commission’s proposal to amend the aviation ETS to cover emissions from all flights within EU airspace. They want to continue to “stop the clock”, which exempts all long-haul flights thus leaving 75 per cent of emissions uncontrolled or unregulated. Such a move is clearly not motivated by environmental considerations.
NGOs wrote to French president François Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and UK prime minister David Cameron to express deep concerns about their governments’ continued efforts to weaken aviation ETS. Transport & Environment, the Aviation Environment Federation, Réseau Action Climat France, and Bund (Friends of the Earth – Germany) urged the leaders to support the European Commission’s proposal to ensure enforcement measures are taken against airlines which have failed to comply with their 2012 obligations. The letter sent to Prime Minister Cameron is copied below.
Letter from T&E. AEF, BUND and RAC France at
Prime Minister David Cameron,
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA
18 December 2013
Re: Aviation EU ETS
Dear Prime Minister,
We write to you and to your German and French counterparts to express our deep concerns about your governments’ continued efforts to weaken Europe’s emissions trading system (ETS) for aviation, to urge you to support the recent proposal from the European Commission, and to ensure enforcement measures are taken against airlines which have failed to comply with their 2012 obligations.
Globally, aviation emits more CO2 each year than either France or the UK and only slightly less CO2 than Germany. EU aviation emissions – a third of global totals – have doubled since 1990 and will double or triple again by 2050. Inclusion of aviation in the ETS was a necessary step; over 85% of total European aviation emissions arise from international flights while ICAO has shown a complete inability to act.
For 2012, the first year that aircraft operators were included in the ETS, compliance comprised over 98% of emissions, demonstrating that European action is indeed workable.
A year ago your government, acting in concert with France and Germany, prevailed on the European Commission not to enforce the ETS for extra-EU flights in 2012 leading to Stop the Clock. Last July your Government again in concert with France and Germany pressed the EU to advocate in ICAO a reduced scope for the aviation ETS to cover EU airspace only. This was in response to an American proposal at ICAO, which China, India (on a national basis), Japan, Singapore, the UAE, Mexico and others also endorsed because it addressed their concerns about extraterritoriality and reflected the Chicago Convention’s clear confirmation of states’ absolute sovereignty in their airspace.
Last month with the ink on the Commission’s ‘airspace’ proposal barely dry, your Government adopted a joint position with France and Germany pressing for yet a further retreat, so that the system would leave out flights from and to Europe entirely, and cover flights within Europe only.
Suggestions that the airspace proposal is unworkable are incorrect; the Commission’s assessment reveals no significant implementation hurdles. Environmentally, retreating from EU airspace to intra-EU flights only is highly damaging since it would further reduce the amount of emissions captured by a third and exempt long-haul flights which account for over half of EU aviation emissions.
Politically, its sends the damaging signal that Europe is not even prepared to defend a scope which regulates emissions from all flights operating within Europe itself and whose consistency with member states’ sovereign rights under the Chicago Convention was never questioned at ICAO.
We feel that any political advantages of retreat are speculative, whereas the damage is clear. Failing to pursue any credible ambition at home while eschewing a leadership role in ICAO is a self-defeating approach that risks failure on both fronts. The ICAO resolution on mutual agreement was clearly aimed at any European move – whether intra EU, airspace or full scope – and is best addressed by noting, as Europe has done before, that such motions are non-binding.
The retreat that France, the UK and Germany now propose will in fact not diminish foreign resistance or resolve enforcement issues; the reduced scope only cuts the number of affected airlines by three (all very marginal operators) down to 142, while emissions captured shrink to only 25% of the original scheme.
Moreover, the self-evident linking of your recent actions to further orders of Airbus aircraft clearly sends a strong geopolitical signal about who is in charge of aviation policy in Europe – and it does not seem to be the UK, French or German governments.
Commercial orders that depend on European governments complying with foreign demands are severely damaging to democracy, sovereignty, political standing, and with that ultimately the economy too. Concessions today will inevitably lead to further concessions tomorrow. These are not short-term consequences.
NGOs call on you urgently to withdraw your joint proposal and lend your government’s support to base the ETS on regional airspace.
Doing so will confirm that Europe has listened to ICAO by modifying the ETS while retaining the sovereign rights and responsibilities conferred through the Chicago Convention. More crucially, by requiring the EU to regulate emissions in regional airspace, you will be publicly upholding the urgent need for early and effective action, confirming Europe’s right to do so and reinforcing the ICAO principle of equal treatment of carriers.
We also call on your Government to ensure that appropriate enforcement procedures are taken against those airlines that have failed to comply with the 2012 legislation and to confirm to us that this action has taken place.
Without effective enforcement of the 2012 statutory obligations, carriers from both within and outside Europe cannot be expected to comply with future legislation.
Jos Dings, Director, Transport & Environment, Brussels
Pierre Perbos, Président, Pour le RAC-France
Olaf Bandt, Director Director Policy & Communication, Bund, Friends of the Earth Germany
Tim Johnson, Director, Aviation Environment Federation
Also addressed to Chancellor Angela Merkel and Président Francois Hollande.
For more news on the inclusion of aviation in the EU ETS see
- EU ETS News Stories
- Two recent stories:
Prospects of the ETS survival weakened by pressure against it from UK, Germany and France
December 5, 2013
The prospects of carbon emissions from aviation being adequately accounted for by the EU ETS in future look bleak. The Commission has proposed changing the law so aviation emissions that take place outside EU air space are exempt. But Germany, France and the UK want to exempt foreign airlines from the ETS entirely – even for the portions of flights that take place within EU airspace – because anything less would not be politically acceptable to China, India, Russia and the United States. Some MEPs are now lining up against the Commission as well. The Parliament is still likely to be evenly split, when it comes time to vote, between those who oppose any retreat, those who support the Commission’s semi-retreat, and those who support the member states’ full retreat. The problem with the partial retreat is that foreign airlines (other than those from small developing countries) would still be liable for emissions taking place within EU airspace for flights landing or taking off at EU airports. Even the most stalwart European lawmakers have admitted privately that they could not hope to hold out against the combined pressure of Beijing, Washington and Airbus. The choice now lies between partial retreat and (more likely) full retreat. There will be a vote in January about the draft proposal. Click here to view full story…
Peter Liese MEP seeks to strengthen draft EU directive on aviation in the ETS
November 29, 2013 .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. Click here to view full story…