More problems for aviation in the EU ETS as France, UK and Germany will not enforce sanctions for non- compliance
German centre-right MEP Peter Liese, the European Parliament’s environment committee rapporteur, wants the European Parliament to refuse to ratify proposed changes to the law on the ETS unless member states start enforcing the existing law. He is supported in this by both the environmental groups, who want better control of aviation carbon emissions, and from a very different perspective, the European Low Fare Airlines Association, which fears that if non-EU airlines are not forced to pay for carbon permits, while EU airlines are, they will be at a competitive disadvantage. Since the freeze (“stop the clock”) ended in October, the Commission proposed to change the legislation so that only the portions of flights taking place within EU airspace would be charged. But France, Germany and the UK are pushing to exempt until 2016 all emissions from any flight that enters or leaves EU airspace. At present the EU is not charging foreign airlines for the flights they operate within EU airspace. These flights are mostly American and Chinese. Liese wants the Parliament to withhold its backing until the regulators start punishing the foreign airlines for not paying their ETS charges. And to do it before May – Germany and France don’t want to do this.
Liese to block ETS aviation remedy
By Dave Keating
23.1.2014 (European Voice)
German centre-right MEP Peter Liese, who is shaping legislation on the integration of aviation in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, will today (23 January) call on the European Parliament to refuse to ratify proposed changes to the law unless member states start enforcing the existing law.
Liese will be backed at a press conference by environmental groups and the European Low Fare Airlines Association, which has complained that the EU’s “surrender” on the issue will hurt European airlines and benefit their competitors from outside the EU.
All planes landing or taking off at EU airports became subject to fees in the EU’s carbon market as of 1 January 2012. However, after howls of protest from Russia, China, India and the US, the Commission froze application of the charges for non-EU flights. That freeze is scheduled to end soon.
In response to what it says were positive developments toward developing a global mechanism to reduce aviation emissions last year, the Commission in October proposed to change the legislation so that only the portions of flights taking place within EU airspace would be charged. But France, Germany and the UK are pushing to exempt until 2016 all emissions from any flight that enters or leaves EU airspace.
In the meantime, EU regulators are not charging foreign airlines for the flights they operate within EU airspace. These flights are mostly American and Chinese. Liese, who supports the Commission’s approach, is calling on the Parliament to withhold its backing until the regulators start punishing the foreign airlines for not paying their ETS charges.
Liese will say that a vote scheduled for the environment committee on 30 January should go ahead, but that the plenary vote should not be scheduled until member states co-operate.
Because of the way France and Germany transposed the ETS directive, they only have the legal authority to punish non-compliant airlines for one year. This authority will expire on 1 May. The MEPs believe that the two countries are trying to run out the clock until then, and that after 1 May they will say their law simply doesn’t allow them to punish the foreign airlines. Sources say France currently has no intention of enforcing the directive, while Germany is pleading with the Chinese airlines to voluntarily comply.
MEPs believe they have leverage because member states need this rule to be in place before foreign airlines become liable at the end of the freeze on charges. On Tuesday the Parliament’s transport committee backed the member states, rejecting the Commission’s ‘airspace’ approach. However the environment committee has the lead on the file and is expected to side with the Commission.
Revised European Emissions Plan Draws Criticism from All Corners
Despite an apparent historic consensus at the ICAO Triennial Assembly in Montreal in early October to develop a global market-based mechanism for managing aircraft emissions, the European Commission (EC) has pressed ahead with plans to implement emissions trading scheme (ETS) in the meantime. The key difference lies in the fact that the new policy would apply only to fuel burned within European airspace, rather than cover full intercontinental flights to and from European cities.
But, crucially, it would still apply to non-EU airlines, provoking renewed resistance from the air transport industry, even though European officials always made clear their intention to take some form of limited unilateral action ahead of implementation of the envisioned worldwide system.
“It would take us back to the brink of a trade war, a situation the industry certainly would want to avoid,” warned Paul Steele, senior vice president of member and external relations for the International Air Transport Association (IATA), at a media event last month in Geneva, Switzerland.
The European Parliament must vote on the plan by April for airlines to meet emissions reporting requirements for applicable flights in 2013. Schedules call for a preliminary vote to move forward on January 30 in the parliament’s environment committee. Upcoming elections in late May for most of the parliament’s 766 members appear sure to complicate the political wrangling.
The new plan still requires all airlines that fly into or out of airports in the European Economic Area (EEA) to account for their carbon dioxide emissions and purchase carbon credits for any that are not covered by an allowance of free credits. TheEEA comprises the 27 members of the EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Airlines would not have to report their emissions while flying over Switzerland, which is a member of neither the EU nor EEA.
More than a dozen other countries, known as “the coalition of the unwilling”—including the US, China, India, Canada, Brazil and Russia—opposed the original EU-ETS scheme on sovereignty grounds. The U.S. Congress passed the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act 2011, barring U.S. aircraft operators from participating in the EU-ETS.
China used economic leverage, holding up a $12 billion order for Airbus aircraft. TheEU backed off, deferring in November 2012 to the forthcoming ICAO assembly and implementing a “stop the clock” policy that applied only to European airlines. The Chinese then allowed the order for Airbus A330s and A380s to proceed.
Plans for the EU to forge ahead on its own have drawn dissension within Europe. French, German and UK government leaders—three countries with huge stakes in Airbus—have publicly opposed the new EU emissions implementation.
Meanwhile, European low-fare carriers such as Easyjet and Ryanair object to the prospect of EU-only fees diminishing their competitiveness against non-European airlines. European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA) secretary general John Hanlon has called for reversion to an all-flights ETS as “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.”
Environmental groups consider the ICAO resolution, which calls a market-based mechanism plan by 2016 and implementation by 2020, a delaying tactic. Peter Liese, a spokeman for the European Parliament’s environmental committee, called the ICAO resolution “a very modest result.”
“We have no guarantee that a system will be introduced in 2020 and that the benefit for the environment is substantial,” he added. “There are too many ifs and buts. EU law has to be applied and we can’t give in to threats. We must not capitulate and be bullied by third countries.”
NGO letter to governments of France, Germany, & UK on inclusion in ETS of flights in EU airspace
December 20, 2013
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. Click here to view full story…
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…
Count us out of carbon-neutral growth measures, China and other major emerging countries tell ICAO
November 4, 2013 At the ICAO Assembly last month, it was agreed it would work towards a global market based measure (MBM) for aviation emissions, by 2020 – itself a weak position taking too long to start to deal with the issue. GreenAir online reports that now China says the adoption of a carbon-neutral growth goal from 2020 without differentiated responsibilities would impede development of its international aviation activities. China and other emerging countries, with fast expanding aviation, say that though they may want goals to reduce international aviation emissions, it should be the responsibility of the developed countries to make the cuts. ie. this is further wrangling within the ICAO, which is why the organisation has failed over decades to get any agreement on practical action on aviation emissions. To add to the obstacles in getting progress on a MBM, the USA has objected to the de minimis provisions [ie. that the smallest countries, which contribute each below 1% of global aviation CO2 are excluded] in the Assembly climate resolution and the inclusion of the differentiated responsibilities principle. The deep divisions remain on this issue, between the developed and developing world. Click here to view full story…
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