EU compromise on inclusion of long haul flights in the ETS faces opposition – vote on 19th March
A number of EU politicians plan to vote against a deal to exempt long-haul flights, to and from Europe, from paying for carbon emissions until the end of 2016 in an attempt to prevent the EU from bowing to international pressure. The European Parliament’s 71-member Environment Committee will vote on March 19 on a deal brokered by EU diplomats earlier in March to extend a so-called “stop the clock” measure exempting intercontinental flights from regulation under its ETS. The vote on the 19th will be a preliminary indication of whether the proposal can win enough support in the full 766-strong EU Parliament, a step required before it can become law. If there is no agreement by the end of April, this is likely to reignite tensions with Europe’s major trading partners (US, China, India) and risk a trade war. Failure to reach agreement on continuing to allow flights into and out of the EU not to pay for their carbon emissions would be good news for environmentalists, as it would mean that an existing law that requires all aviation to pay for emissions would automatically apply. There is a lot of internal European politics involved.
EU compromise on airline emissions faces opposition
Thu Mar 13, 2014
* Failure to agree in April could trigger trade threats
* Previous law suspended because of international opposition
By Susanna Twidale and Barbara Lewis (Reuters)
A number of EU politicians plan to vote against a deal to exempt long-haul flights from paying for carbon emissions until the end of 2016 in an attempt to prevent the European Union from bowing to international pressure.
The European Parliament’s 71-member Environment Committee will vote on March 19 on a deal brokered by EU diplomats earlier in March to extend a so-called “stop the clock” measure exempting intercontinental flights from regulation under its Emissions Trading System (ETS).
Next week’s vote of the cross-party committee would be a preliminary indication of whether the proposal can win enough support in the full 766-strong EU Parliament, a step required before it can become law.
Failure to get final agreement on the compromise before the end of April would be likely to reignite tensions with Europe’s major trading partners, such as China and the United States, and risk a trade war.
But for environmentalists, it would be a triumph because it would mean that an existing law that requires all aviation to pay for emissions would automatically apply.
Under the “stop-the-clock” proposal, only internal EU flights are charged for emissions.
Matthias Groote, environment committee chairman in the European Parliament, said by phone there was still no majority either way in the committee on the issue.
The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the biggest grouping in the parliament, is broadly in favour of the extension, but liberal ALDE member Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy said by phone he was encouraging his members to vote against the deal.
Groote said there was still opposition to the deal among some members of his Socialist Party, while the Greens, the European Parliament’s fourth-biggest group, have already said they would oppose the proposal.
The European Union in 2012 started charging all airlines that use EU airports for all of their emissions.
But after fierce opposition from China and the United States, it suspended the law to give the U.N.’s global aviation body, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), more time to craft a global measure to regulate airlines’ rising output of heat-trapping gases.
Last October, the roughly 190 nations at ICAO agreed to design a global scheme by 2016, which would not take effect until 2020, and rejected letting Europe apply its own plan to foreign carriers in the meantime.
Gerbrandy said he was seeking a compromise that would mean international airlines would have to pay for their emissions once they entered European airspace, in line with a proposal put forward by the Commission.
“For me this (law) goes much further than aviation and the climate. It is about the position of the EU in the world,” he said.
Environmental campaigners also say the parliament should hold out for an airspace approach.
“The International Civil Aviation Organisation recognises that regulating emissions in states’ airspace is legal,” Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at campaign group Transport & Environment, said. “This is what the parliament should ensure happens now.” (editing by Jane Baird)
Other recent articles about the ETS
Vote on ETS in European Parliament on 19th March on whether “stop the clock” continues to 2016 or 2020
March 13, 2014
MEPs on the European Parliament’s environment committee will next week (19th) be faced with a difficult choice on aviation and the ETS – accept a humiliating surrender to America, Russian and Chinese bullying, or risk a trade war with grave economic consequences. Last week negotiators reached a deal to exempt non-EU airlines from paying for their CO2 emissions, in deference to pressure from Washington, Moscow and Beijing. The EU “stopped the clock” on the scheme, except for intra EU flights, and a decision on the next stage has to be made on when, and if, the carbon emissions from flights to and from the EU can again be included. Sticking with “stop the clock” gives advantages to hub airports just outside EU airspace, such as Istanbul, at the expense of EU competitors. The Parliament is demanding that the exemption should end in 2016 rather than in 2020, and the text agreed with member states says only an ICAO agreement which reduces emissions – rather than just halting the rise in emissions – would meet the conditions to allow carbon from flights to and from the EU to continue to be excluded. The UK wants the 2020 date. If the agreement is passed in the March 19 ENVI meeting, it will be presented at the Parliament’s plenary session on April 3 for a full vote by MEPs. If passed, the regulation will come into immediate effect.
Good 4 min 30 secs video of interview with Peter Liese explaining the situation, and how the ETS will snap back to “full scope”in 2016 if ICAO has not performed, and a key date will be May 2018, when airlines will have to pay:
Peter Liese MEP, rapporteur on Aviation in the EU ETS, talks to environment journalist Sonja van Renssen of viEUws.eu about the provisional trilogue agreement and enforcement of the scheme on non-compliant airlines:
NGOs urge EU governments to take action over EU ETS enforcement against non-compliant foreign airlines
March 3, 2014
European environmental NGOs have formally requested German, Dutch and British authorities responsible for administering the Aviation EU ETS to take necessary action against airlines that failed to comply with the carbon scheme in 2012. The NGOs name airlines Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Air India, Jet Airways, Saudia and Aeroflot as not having submitted carbon permits to cover their intra-European flights that year by the 30 April 2013 deadline. Facing international opposition, the EU temporarily suspended a requirement for airlines to report emissions from intercontinental flights to and from Europe in 2012 under the ‘Stop the Clock’ derogation. Carriers regardless of nationality were still required to comply with the scheme for flights carried out within Europe. The NGOs point out that offenders gain a competitive advantage over compliant airlines if the regulations are not enforced equally and consistently. The NGOs say “It makes no sense and undermines the EU’s position internationally to enforce the ETS partially or in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner.” EU countries must enforce compliance with the ETS in a consistent and fair manner. Click here to view full story…
Aircraft operators hit with ETS non-compliance penalty as EU states send out enforcement notices
February 24, 2014
As part of the process of enforcing payments for carbon emissions by airlines in the ETS, notices have been sent to airlines and business jet operators that failed to comply with regulations in 2012. It is understood that one Europe-based commercial business jet owner has received a penalty from the UK authorities of some half a million euros for failing to surrender the required number of allowances by the 30 April 2013 deadline. The main EU countries (UK, German, France etc) have responsibility as Competent Authorities (CAs) for sending notices for non-compliance on the airlines of selected countries. Member states have an obligation to issue fines of €100 for every tonne of CO2 an aircraft operator fails to submit an allowance to cover. The various Member States have taken different approaches, with some countries more assiduous than others. Some EU authorities are faced with enforcing penalties on Chinese, Indian and Russian operators that carried out intra-European flights in 2012 but failed to comply with the EU ETS ‘Stop the Clock’ regime. The “Stop the Clock” derogation during 2013 meant the obligation to report emissions from intercontinental flights to and from Europe were temporarily suspended. EU states are under pressure to act from EU politicians unhappy at what they see as ‘feet-dragging’ over enforcing compliance. More detail from GreenAir online. Click here to view full story…
Sandbag blog: Aviation in the ETS – still no deal
February 20, 2014
If EU governments have kept their word, letters should now be landing on the doormats of the airlines across the world who haven’t complied with the ETS. This last minute notice of penalties for non-compliant airlines is a desperate last minute attempt to show that EU laws will be applied when airlines operate in Europe. Sandbag say that though the EU data is sketchy, a number of airlines, including China Eastern and Air India, were missing from EU records, despite the law saying they should pay for their CO2 when they flew from one EU airport to another (the UK won’t currently confirm who isn’t compliant). Now the proposals for a change to the scheme are in trialogue discussion between the three pillars of the EU government, the Commission, the Parliament and the Council. MEP Peter Liese, who is leading the ETS proposals, has said he is willing to compromise further, and allow the current limited scheme to continue for 2 more years. This unsatisfactory and weak position suits EU member states afraid of confrontation or trade wars with China, India etc. Peter Liese wants EU member states to agree that the ETS should revert to full coverage (not only within Europe as at present) in 2016. Click here to view full story…
EU’s aviation emissions ETS law ‘puts Europe’s global power to the test’, MEPs say
January 27, 2014
Euractiv reports that members of the European Parliament and industry representatives say the ETS for aviation is rapidly turning into a “political question of the EU’s influence on the world stage”. There will be a key vote by the European Parliament’s environment committee on 30th January. The Parliament’s rapporteur on aviation ETS, Peter Liese MEP, has threatened to block the EU’s efforts to amend the existing legislation if the EC does not mention which countries have undermined the ETS so far. There remain foreign carriers operating intra-EU flights without paying their ETS share, including Air China (Athens – Munich) and China Eastern (Frankfurt – Hamburg) and even intra-German ones. Airbus stakeholder states – the UK, France and Germany – have surrendered to “economic blackmail” from China, which threatened to no longer buy Airbus planes if the EU carried on with its legislation. Peter Liese is pushing the EC to shorten its current 2020 deadline and revert to a full-scope ETS from 2016, if no agreement on global measures is found in ICAO. T&E commented that “Pursuing anything less than coverage of emissions in EU airspace is environmentally unacceptable. At the same time, not enforcing the existing ETS sends a clear signal to third countries that EU sovereignty doesn’t matter and it won’t advance efforts to secure agreement on global measures either.” Click here to view full story…