ICAO / EU ETS News Stories
UK Government undecided on how to price carbon after leaving the EU ETS
Until the end of December 2020, the carbon emissions from key sectors of the UK economy come under the European Emissions Trading System (ETS). From January 2021, a new system has to be put in place. The options are either for the UK to have its own ETS, or alternatively to tax carbon. The Treasury is keen on the economy-wide carbon tax. The BEIS is keen on a new ETS. There might also be a hybrid scheme. A decision is expected by early December, but this lack of charity is very late for business etc that need to plan now for what they will be doing in 2021. Some companies would end up paying less with an ETS than with a carbon tax, if the price of carbon allowances is too low. The current EU ETS carbon price is about £24 per tonne, but the UK ETS price could be around £15. Within the EU ETS, only flights within the EU are included – not flights outside Europe, so the scope is very limited. It is important that aviation pays tax on its carbon, and it is also important that the system is in place from January 2021, not a year or two later. The Aviation Environment Federation says: “In the event that the UK does not develop its own emissions trading system, there is a risk that UK aviation will not be subject to any carbon pricing from 1 January 2020. This would be a backward step, and send the wrong message…”
T&E: Why Europe should focus on its own airline carbon market and forget the UN scheme
Transport & Environment argues why Europe should not depend on the inadequate, ineffective CORSIA scheme, for its aviation CO2 emissions. CORSIA does not include an actual emissions reduction target. It is at odds with the Paris agreement’s goals. The quality of the offsets is not good enough; there are so many of them that the price is far too low to make airlines reduce emissions. An EU system could do better. T&E says: “The aviation geeks of this world will know the argument [that international aviation can only be controlled by ICAO] by heart now: “aviation is an international mode of transport, so it requires international solutions”. But does it, really? A majority of the aviation industry is eager to privilege international solutions when they want to escape their environmental responsibilities, but are very happy to promote national solutions when it comes to getting [Covid] bailout money. This needs to stop. Aviation can’t have it both ways: it’s unfair for the sector to get support in bad times and refuse to contribute to European and national environmental efforts in good times. Especially when the industry isn’t effectively dealing with aviation’s climate problem by itself”.
Aviation industry decision to weaken CORSIA climate plan could break ICAO’s own rules
Countries attending the UN’s ICAO meeting this week look set to weaken the only international policy to address the climate impact of aircraft. But the way the decision is being made could be in violation of the organisation’s own rules. ICAO has for years been supposed to take responsibility for international aviation CO2 emissions, but have done almost nothing. It has a scheme, CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) set up in 2016. It would, at best, deliver only small CO2 emissions reductions, nowhere approaching on the scale needed. Now ICAO plans to further weaken the CORSIA scheme, by changing the way the baseline for emissions is determined. A bad scheme would become a very bad scheme. This may be illegal, according to its own regulations – ICAO has always been opaque and concealed information. The change of baseline, using only 2019 emissions, not the average of 2019 + 2020, would mean no airline offsetting obligations until 2028 or later. It could also reduce the overall chance of cutting aviation carbon by 25-75%. The final decision on the baseline change is expected on 26th June.
‘Final blow’ to aviation climate plan as EU agrees to weaken rules
There had been hopes that the EU would insist on keeping more effective means of reducing carbon emitted by airlines. The current proposals by ICAO, in their CORSIA scheme, are too weak to be effective. The EU now say they will back the CORSIA scheme, which means watering down the rules. Airlines want the baseline period, from which to measure airline carbon emissions for the CORSIA scheme, to be the two years, 2019 and 2020. But 2020 is going to be a year of atypically low airline activity. So they want the base line period to be just 2019. That means giving airlines a free pass to pollute for the next 3 to 6 years depending on the speed of the Covid recovery. That is what the EU has now agreed to, having initially stood out against it. So airlines could save $15 billion in carbon offsetting costs, paying nothing till 2024. This weakening of the scheme would further damage the credibility of the CORSIA offsetting scheme, which is widely regarded as weak and not aligned with the Paris Agreement goals. It will now become essentially meaningless. The ineffective CORSIA scheme undermines many governments’ stated intentions to bolster climate ambition.
Open letter to ICAO – the CORSIA scheme should not be weakened, just because of Covid
Thirteen organisations concerned with aviation carbon emissions and carbon trading, have written to ICAO to ask that they stick to the intentions for how the CORSIA scheme is set up, and do not weaken it. The stated purpose of CORSIA is to help the international aviation sector achieve “carbon-neutral growth from 2020”. It is due to use as a baseline the aviation CO2 emissions from 2019 and 2020. However, with the Covid pandemic, airline carbon emissions will be much lower than anticipated this year. If ICAO used 2019 and 2020, the amount of carbon the sector could emit, and the cost of emitting it, would be far lower than anticipated. So IATA wants to change the rules, so the carbon baseline only considers 2019, not including 2020, which would result in significantly lower offsetting requirements for airlines compared to the current CORSIA design. In fact, under most recovery scenarios, the change sought by IATA would eliminate all offsetting requirements for the duration of the CORSIA pilot phase and potentially several years thereafter. The rules need to be adhered to.
European Commission will keep intra-European aviation within the ETS, as well as being in the ICAO’s CORSIA scheme
ICAO’s planned global scheme for offsetting emissions from international flights will supplement, not replace, the European Union carbon market, the EU’s transport commissioner has now said. With the United Nations (ICAO) planning a 2021 launch of CORSIA, clarity is needed that the European Commission will not remove aviation from the EU emissions trading system (ETS). Transport Commissioner, Adian Valean said: “CORSIA will not put the ETS at stake. It will not replace the ETS. It will complement the ETS.” The ETS only covers flights between European countries, not outside Europe. It is a more effective scheme, in incentivising lower carbon emissions, than CORSIA – which is very weak. But ICAO wants the EU to remove these flights from its carbon market so that CORSIA can be the only market-based measure tackling international aviation emissions. The Commission, the 27-nation EU’s executive is assessing how the two systems will co-exist. It is important that EU flights outside Europe are in the CORSIA scheme, and Europe participates – otherwise other countries may also decide not to take part.
IATA calls for change in CORSIA baseline to protect airlines from future higher offsetting requirements
Fri 3 Apr 2020
By GreenAir online
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, IATA has called on the ICAO Council to change the baseline calculation used for the CORSIA offsetting scheme for international aviation emissions.
In a position paper, IATA says the baseline must be adjusted “to ensure the sustainable development of international aviation and avoid an inappropriate economic burden on the sector.” It recommends that only emissions for 2019 be used for calculating the baseline.
In support of its justification for a change in the baseline, the IATA paper quotes paragraph 16 of the A40-19 CORSIA resolution passed at the last ICAO Assembly in 2019, “… on the need to provide for safeguards in the CORSIA to ensure the sustainable development of the international aviation sector and against inappropriate economic burden on international aviation, and requests the Council to decide the basis and criteria for triggering such action and identify possible means to address these issues …”.
The IATA paper argues: “Allowing the use of 2019 emissions as an alternative would preserve the environmental benefits that were forecast to be achieved through CORSIA as the adjusted baseline would remain more stringent than what the baseline would have been without the Covid-19 crisis.”
The airline trade body is also concerned that countries already signed up to join the voluntary pilot and first phases of CORSIA, and those still considering joining, may reconsider their positions in order to protect their airlines from potential higher compliance costs if no change is made to the 2019/20 calculation. States have until June 30 to notify ICAO of their intention to join the scheme from the beginning or decide to discontinue their voluntary participation.
Accordingly, IATA urges the Council to take a decision on a baseline adjustment before this date at the latest.
IATA also calls on ICAO to urge States to extend the May 31 deadline for the submission by aeroplane operators of their 2019 verified emissions report until at least the end of October 2020. It argues Covid-19 travel restrictions and confinement measures in many countries “have made it impossible for verification bodies to conduct verification activities.”
Airline offsetting is a distraction from policies that can actually reduce aviation CO2 emissions
Andrew Murphy, aviation expert at T&E, explains why offsetting does not work to remove the carbon flights emit. He gets asked about this a lot. He says: “It’s a reality that people fly more and more regularly …for some it is unavoidable …What’s equally unavoidable is the climate impact of those flights … There is no “green option” for flying … Offsetting is just paying someone else to reduce your emissions, rather than reduce your own. For example, investing in renewable energy or tree-planting in some other part of the globe. … Do carbon offsets work? … Many have called them modern day papal indulgences … offsetting most certainly will not wipe your carbon slate clean … they won’t work in practice, and they won’t work in theory … [trees planted may not survive, a solar farm might have been built anyway] … there is the problem of “additionality” … some offsets are when parties set weak targets for themselves, and sell you any overachievement as an offset. No extra emissions are reduced … While offsetting by individuals is, at worst, ineffective, Governments implementing offsetting schemes worse (eg. Corsia) – a distraction from effective policies that can actually reduce aviation emissions.” Read the whole blog.
Failure of Madrid climate talks to decide on carbon credits bad news for getting ICAO to use more ambitious ones
The failure of global climate talks in Madrid last week to decide the fate of billions of old carbon credits raises the stakes for ICAO which must choose in March which offsets can be used for its carbon market for aviation carbon emissions. ICAO plans to launch a scheme to offset its net growth in emissions, called CORSIA, from 2021 and will decide in March which offsets to use. This would have been easier if the Madrid talks had agreed what carbon markets should be accepted under the Paris climate agreement. Probably in January ICAO’s Technical Advisory Board will make final recommendations to its governing Council on which offset programs to use. An option is the UN’s CDM, set up under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which has issued more than 2 billion credits. These are very cheap – as little as €0.22. But the EU and smaller economies like Costa Rica are expected to push for limits on credits from those projects, which would undermine the integrity of CORSIA. They would not work to curb CO2 emissions. The EU says there has to be a higher level of ambition. There is concern that ICAO will give in to the countries with the cheap credits, like Brazil, in order to keep them involved.
European Green Deal – measures aiming to make Europe carbon neutral by 2050 – now including increased costs and taxes for aviation
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has presented her European Green Deal, a comprehensive climate and nature package of measures to make Europe climate neutral by 2050. The package includes: a 50-55% emissions reduction target for 2030; a climate law to reach net zero emissions by 2050; a fund worth €100 billion to finance the transition; a carbon border tax; and a series of initiatives for sectors such as transport, agriculture, chemicals, buildings and more. NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) said the Deal, aiming to move to completely zero-emission cars and vans, is going in the right direction. For airlines, Von der Leyen proposes to reduce free allowances in the European carbon market (the ETS) – increasing the cost of their pollution – and ending the kerosene tax exemption. The Commission also proposes to include shipping in the ETS, for the first time. T&E says it is reassuring that ICAO and IMO, the UN agencies that have been sabotaging climate progress in these two sectors for at least two decades, are only mentioned in passing. But it is only a statement of intent, not something in law.
Evan Davis “The Bottom Line” programme on aviation industry CO2 – basically “there is no plan”…
Evan Davis has done an edition of the BBC programme “The Bottom Line” on aviation and its claims about cutting its carbon emissions. His interview is revealing, in making clear how empty the industry’s claims of reducing its CO2 in future really are. Sector representatives admit it has broken its own pledges to grow carbon neutrally and lacks firm plans to achieve it by 2050. They talk about changing the sort of planes that fly, though ignoring that any new plane model that could fundamentally cut CO2 emissions per passenger is decades away, and all planes remain in service for perhaps 30 years. There is foolish over-optimism that electric planes might eventually transport enough passengers to make a difference – but it is decades away. All the current changes they are mentioning cut CO2 by far smaller amounts than the anticipated annual growth of the industry. As Evan says, “But this is sort of hot air…we’re used to from the aviation industry: ‘we’re all taking this very seriously, we’re signing up to these targets, by the way we missed it the last time we did it, but we’re ever more ambitions in the target we’re going to sign up to… there’s no plan.’ ”
United Nations realising that carbon offsets do not work to genuinely reduce atmospheric CO2
The United Nations is aware that parts of the organisation are not convinced about carbon offsets, a strategy the UN and its ICAO has supported for two decades. The UN has publicly struggled to reconcile its support for offsets with evidence that they are often ineffective. They encourage the misapprehension that people can continue to lead high carbon lifestyles, and get away with a clear conscience, as long as some effort is made to “offset” the carbon. Rules on global carbon offsets remain contentious and often debated at UN climate talks. The organisation ProPublica published a study into how offsets related to forest preservation have not provided the promised carbon savings. They just permit “business as usual” and postpone the date when any real action might be taken. If trees are planted in poor, hot countries which are suffering unpredictable impacts of climate breakdown, they are likely not to survive. How can the intact forest provide income and livelihoods for local people, if trees are not cut down? Even if the trees do survive for decades, the carbon they have stored is later released back to the atmosphere. Perhaps in time of our grandchildren. Forests are not permanent removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.
DfT launches call for evidence on carbon offsetting on travel, including plane
The DfT (under Grayling) has launched a call for evidence into whether more consumers could be given the option of buying carbon offsets to reduce the carbon footprint of their travel (plane, ferry, train, coach etc). The DfT also asks if transport operators should provide information on carbon emissions. And it will explore the public’s understanding of carbon emissions from the journeys they make and the options to offset them. The transport sector contributes about a third of the UK total CO2 emissions, and these are not falling. Aviation CO2 is increasing. Presumably Grayling hopes that getting some passengers offsetting will somehow cancel out the horrific increases in transport carbon from infrastructure he has pushed through. The DfT seems aware that many people are not persuaded of the effectiveness of carbon offsetting. It seems aware that offsets should be from domestic schemes, not from abroad. But the main problem is offsetting does not reduce carbon. All it does is slightly absolve someone’s conscience, while effectively cancelling out the carbon savings made by others. Offsetting is essentially a con. Offsets are damaging, as they help to continue with “business as usual” behind the greenwashing. See “Cheat Neutral”
Colm McCarthy: ‘Why it’s time to stop giving aviation and shipping sectors an easy ride on pollution’
Colm McCarthy, writing in the Irish Independent, says it is time aviation was taxed. There is no VAT and no excise duty on jet kerosene. The EU is “coming around to the view that neither aviation nor marine transport should permanently be treated so favourably” … “A litre of petrol or diesel costs around €1.40 in most European countries, inclusive of both VAT and excise. This is more than double the pre-tax price – more than half what you pay is either VAT or excise. … Aviation fuel is only 60 or 70 € cent per litre to the airlines.” … ” part of the charge on petrol and diesel is for the upkeep of the road system, largely free at the point of use” so airlines would not need to pay that. “But the leaked report for the EU argues that there should be an excise tax of around 33 € cent per litre on jet kerosene, bringing the price up to about €1 per litre. This would add 10-12% to the price of airline tickets.” That would cut demand by about 11%. …If VAT is also imposed, there would be an even bigger price rise and an even bigger impact on demand, inhibiting aviation growth even further.”Colm McCarthy: ‘Why it’s time to stop giving aviation and shipping sectors an easy ride on pollution’
T&E found the EU sat on data showing benefits of ending airlines’ tax break on jet fuel
A leaked report for the European Commission shows that taxing aviation kerosene sold in Europe, by duty on all departing flights to all destinations of €0.33/litre, would cut aviation emissions by 11% (16.4 MtCO2). It would have no net impact on jobs or the economy as a whole while raising almost €27 billion in revenues every year. Unlike road transport, airlines in Europe have never paid any excise duty on the fuel they take on at EU airports. Airlines are not even taxed on domestic flights where taxation barriers were lifted in 2003. In contrast, jet fuel taken on for domestic aviation has been taxed for many years in countries such as the US, Australia, Japan, Canada and even Saudi Arabia. European member states have, since 2003, had the power to start taxing kerosene uplifted for flights within Europe by using bilateral agreements, but have failed to do so. Over 20 EU states don’t tax international aviation at all (at least the UK has APD). Aviation CO2 emissions grew 4.9% within Europe last year – while emissions from all other industries in the ETS fell 3.9%. CO2 from flying in Europe has soared 26.3% in the last five years – far outstripping any other EU emissions source. With realisation about the reality of climate breakdown, this increase cannot be allowed to continue. Fuel tax would mean more expensive flights, which would reduce demand.
European elections: Top candidates for EU President demand tax on (aviation) kerosene, to help deal with CO2 emissions
Both the conservative Manfred Weber [German politician] and the social democrat Frans Timmermans [Dutch politician and diplomat] want to tax aircraft fuel. They are the main candidates to be the next EU Commission President, after Jean-Claude Junker steps down later in May. But they are divided on the CO2 tax. Both want to abolish the tax benefits for aviation fuel. Airlines currently do not pay fuel tax on their fuel, due to historic international agreements. The injustice leads to lying being significantly cheaper than other means of transport. “The preference of the airline business must be ended.” Then the train would also have better chances in the competition. Frans Timmermans wants to tax kerosene “unconditionally and quickly”… “If it fails at the international level, we have to introduce the tax EU-wide.” They disagree on whether carbon should be taxed, due to difficulties in protecting the poor. The German Union parties have so far no uniform position on the CO2 tax. But Timmermans wants a European tax on CO2, and said the next President must make climate protection a top priority and push the transformation of the economy in the next 5 years.
ICAO blocks any critics on Twitter and describes comments on aviation and climate as “fake news”
The UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is dismissing factual critiques and blocking Twitter accounts that raise concerns about the climate change impact of flying, accusing them of “fake news” and “spam”. A number of campaigners and researchers complain they have been barred from following @ICAO on Twitter, including famous and respected climate scientist, Kevin Anderson. ICAO’s combative approach to public engagement has drawn wider criticism, with environmental journalists describing it as “spectacularly ill-judged” and “self-defeating“. On Wednesday, Steve Westlake, a behavioural scientist at Cardiff University, shared a screenshot showing Icao had blocked him. It came after he responded to 3 ICAO tweets by sharing a comment from Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg arguing most airport expansions were incompatible with meeting international climate goals. That analysis is uncontroversial. Aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. AEF commented that “Climate leadership should always begin with open and transparent debate about the issues and challenges, so this is worrying.”
An assessment by Carbon Market Watch of credit providers for the aviation offsetting scheme
Carbon Market Watch has produced a report that assesses credit providers for the ICAO CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme – which aims to compensate the growth in CO2 emissions from international aviation above 2020 levels, starting in 2021. Offsets should ” offset programs will be screened against the eleven new Program Design Elements,” (one of which, for example, is: “Program Governance: Programs should publicly disclose who is responsible for administration of the program and how decisions are made.” Carbon Market Watch conclude that “no program can yet operate in a manner which complies with all the eligibility criteria. Some will need to update and improve certain parts of their protocols or methodologies, but all are hampered by the lack of clarity on international accounting rules to avoid double counting of emission reductions. The present assessment also highlights that the Program Design Elements are not sufficient to exclude credits with no environmental value, and that a rigorous application of the second set of criteria, the Carbon Offset Credit Integrity Assessment Criteria, is necessary and will require analysis of specific methodologies and projects.”
ICAO working on rules to at least ensure its CORSIA carbon credits for aviation are not double-counted
Rules to avoid double-counting of CO2 emissions cuts in offsets to be used by the aviation sector through the (weak, ineffective) ICAO CORSIA scheme, are considered to be a step forward by some campaigners. But proper assurances are needed to meet aviation’s climate pledges, so the claims of (sic) “carbon neutral growth” mean something. ICAO negotiators have agreed rules to prevent double-counting of carbon credits used to offset airline emissions. As air traffic growth outpaces efficiency improvements, airlines will be expected to pay for emissions reductions in other sectors to offset the climate impact. In one of its secretive meetings, ICAO has adopted broad criteria to ensure those carbon offsets are not also counted towards national targets – and they actually represent extra CO2 emissions savings. Campaigners are also calling for an age limit on eligible carbon offsetting projects and transparency around the way the rules are put into practice. There is a huge pool of dormant projects under the UN’s CDM that could, in theory, meet demand from airlines for carbon offsets. But most of those would continue cutting emissions, even without being used by aviation. So they are not additional.
Study confirms that relying on outdated CDM carbon credits to compensate aviation emissions will do nothing for climate action
The UN’s new, very weak, scheme to attempt to do something about global aviation CO2 emissions is starting soon. It is the “Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation” (CORSIA). Countries have been trying to locate cheap, plentiful carbon credits that airlines can use. The process is secretive. One type of carbon credit being considered comes from the CDM, (Clean Development Mechanism) a carbon market established under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to allow rich countries to meet their climate targets at a cheaper cost. This climate tool has generated a lot of controversy around its failure to reduce emissions, as well as negative impacts it has had on local communities and the environment. The problem is that there is a huge supply of “junk” CDM credits, far larger than the amount aviation would need. These junk credits are often from projects to cut CO2 emissions which would happen anyway. If these junk credits are the ones the aviation sector uses, the effect would be an increase in global CO2. There is also the problem that while all credits are far too cheap to be effective, the junk ones are even cheaper – so not costing airlines enough to in any way be an incentive to limit their CO2 emissions.
ICAO’s environment committee comes up with some standards for new aircraft, years ahead
The meeting of the ICAO “Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) in Montreal has ended. The committee’s purpose is to try to reduce and limit the environmental damage done by the aviation industry (noise, air pollution, carbon emissions). It has not been very successful to date. This meeting has agreed on an Aircraft Engine Standard: “A new stringency level that would limit the emissions of non-volatile Particulate Matter (nvPM) from aircraft engines was agreed. The ICAO standard is expected to drive technologies to address non-volatile particulate matter, which in the long run will minimise their potential environmental and health impacts.” ie. for planes yet to be built, with any impacts decades ahead. At least admitting the problem of PM particles produced by planes. On noise ICAO said: “The meeting also delivered …improvements of aircraft noise up to 15.5 dB below Chapter 14 limits for single-aisle aircraft by 2027, NOx emission by 54 per cent relative to the latest ICAO NOx SARPs and fuel efficiency up to 1.3% per annum can be expected for the new aircraft entering into production.” Again, for new planes, with no real impact for decades. On CORSIA they said CAEP had agreement (not spelled out) on how to assess life-cycle CO2 emissions reductions for biofuels or other lower carbon fuels. ie. not a lot.
Critics attack secrecy at UN’s ICAO CAEP committee, tasked with cutting global airline CO2 emissions
A UN ICAO committee, Committee on Aviation and Environmental Protection (CAEP), with the job of cutting global aircraft carbon emissions (an issue of global concern) is meeting secretly, for discussions dominated by airline industry observers. The committee always meets behind closed doors; the press and other observers are not allowed in (unlike other UN committees). The committee’s agenda and discussion documents are not released to the public or the international press. Anyone who leaks documents being discussed faces “unlimited liability for confidentiality breaches”, according to ICAO rules. The only non-governmental body not linked to the airline industry allowed into the meeting is the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA), made up of a small group of international environmental NGOs. Transparency International says “Agencies which set common global standards for large, international industries have to be transparent in order to prevent capture by corporate interests … ” A key concern is that the committee wants to certify biofuels, that are definitely NOT environmentally sustainable, as low carbon. And also fossil oil, produced using solar energy – also NOT a low carbon fuel. The committee needs to be open to public scrutiny.
ICAO’s CORSIA low standards on biofuels risk undercutting EU’s new renewables rules
The UN’s ICAO is a secretive organisation, that has been woefully ineffective in limiting the CO2 emissions of global aviation. There are considerable concerns that it will try to get bad biofuels certified as low carbon, in order to whitewash the sector’s emissions in future. The global deal, CORSIA, making the first tentative steps towards restricting aviation CO2 at all is just starting. There is, elsewhere, growing understanding that biofuels are generally not the way forward, and their real lifecycle carbon emissions are far higher than their proponents make out. ICAO has now agree 2 criteria (out of 12 possible) for aviation biofuels. These are that there should have been no deforestation after 2009; and there should be at least a saving of 10% of green house gas emissions, (including emissions from indirect land-use change or ILUC) compared to fossil jet kerosene. ICAO’s environment committee will develop rules for what biofuels can be credited – ie. how much of an emissions reduction each biofuel delivers. The effect can only be accurately accounted for using models. There is a serious danger they will try and include palm oil. And countries like Saudi Arabia are trying to get “lower carbon” fossil fuels included, if their production can be 10% more carbon efficient. So aviation will continue to emit vast amounts of carbon for decades….
Experts say legal obstacles no barrier to introducing aviation fuel tax for flights in Europe
EU countries can end the decades-long exemption on taxing aviation fuel. Legal experts say it is possible to tax kerosene on flights between EU countries. This could either be done at EU level through a series of bilateral agreements or by agreement between individual countries. Transport & Environment (T&E) has found that the old argument that foreign carriers’ operating within the EU – de facto a small number of flights – can’t be taxed can be overcome by introducing a de minimis threshold below which fuel burn would not be taxed. At present (and for decades past) airlines, unlike almost all other forms of transport, pay no fuel tax on flights within or from the EU – even though aviation causes 5% of global warming. They also pay no VAT. Despite the aviation industry’s attempts to hide behind the 1944 Chicago Convention, when the agreement was made on not taxing aviation fuel, that is not what is preventing fuel taxation. In fact it is old bilateral ‘air service agreements’ that European governments signed up to years ago that include mutual fuel tax exemptions for non-EU airlines. It remains too hard to tax fuel for international, non-EU, flights.
CORSIA and its failings explained – great piece from Carbon Brief
In a long, detailed and very informative article from Carbon Brief, Jocelyn Timperley explains the CORSIA scheme for aircraft carbon emissions, and its failings. While airlines are starting this year to measure and record their carbon emissions for the first time, it is not expected that the scheme will do anything much to limit aviation carbon. “It can be expected to “modestly reduce” the net climate impact of international aviation up to 2035, according to the (ICCT). This is only if high-quality offsets are used and those offsets are not “double counted”, the think-tank adds…. Unless it is extended beyond 2035, Corsia will cover only 6% of projected CO2 emissions from all international aviation between 2015 and 2050, ICCT data indicates.” That assumes China will partake from the pilot phase. “Base emissions continue to grow under Corsia due to uncovered traffic….. The ICCT argues this means Corsia “does not obviate the need for an ICAO long-term climate goal”. Because of a range of issues, like biofuels, offsets, forestry etc : “It’s not just that Corsia is a weak measure – it’s that it’s an actively bad measure, that risks doing more harm than good.”
T&E warns that the EU only has till 1st December to save its right to regulate European aviation CO2 emissions
ICAO has been ineffective on aviation CO2, as it is heavily influenced by the aviation industry and operates in near complete secrecy. For decades it has done very little to act on aviation’s surging CO2 emissions. Worse, ICAO’s flagship climate measure, CORSIA risks being the end, not the start, of climate action in aviation around the world and a real threat to the EU ETS in particular. While the Paris agreement aims to get increasingly effective actions to cut CO2, CORSIA sets a cap on carbon ambition and, in particular, on EU action. While the EU ETS has a means to cut aviation CO2, CORSIA is neither really global, nor much of an incentive to reduce carbon emissions. That is why airlines love it. It will hardly affect them, or their growth or profits. But by 1st December the EU must notify ICAO of its intention to continue European legislation, to keep aviation in the ETS. The aviation ETS isn’t perfect, and is only for intra-European flights, but it’s worth fighting for. The alternative, CORSIA, will have almost no effect in reducing CO2 from global aviation. The EU needs to ensure it can introduce CORSIA in a way that is compatible with EU current and future climate rules. Airline lobbyists are trying to prevent this.
By January airlines have to start reporting their CO2 emissions, in preparation for the start of CORSIA
By January, all ICAO Council member states with aircraft operators doing a lot of international flights have to start compiling and transmitting their airlines’ CO2 emissions information. ICAO will gather this, to get ready for the start of its CORSIA “market based measure” plan (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation). Its aim is to try to have (sic) “carbon neutral growth” from 2020. The pilot phase starts in 2021. From January 2019 all airlines producing annual CO2 emissions above 10,000 tonnes will need to measure their emissions on cross-border flights, so a calculation of a sectoral 2020 emission baseline can be made of the average of 2019 and 2020. There are two bits of jargon for CORSIA; the emissions monitoring plan (EMP) and the CO2 emissions reporting tool (CERT). Airlines will need to submit their EMP to their administering state, the country where their aircraft are registered, by February 28, 2019, or preferably earlier. The CERT needs origin, destination, aircraft type, and number of flights for each airline for the year. There is more jargon – the SARP (standards and recommended practices) and the MRV (monitoring, reporting, and verification) requirements … We may hear more of these in coming years …
NGOs urge EU to stand firm on aircraft emissions, keeping ETS and not letting ineffective CORSIA replace it
NGOs working on aviation’s climate impact have called on the European Commission (EC) to reject industry demands to hastily sign up to the controversial ‘Corsia’ carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation. T&E is warning that Corsia threatens the only effective measure currently in place to address aviation emissions, the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). In 2016, ICAO’s general assembly agreed a Corsia to come into effect in 2021. Its aim is to stabilise net emissions from aviation at 2020 levels – a low level of ambition. It also relies on offsetting – a mechanism which is increasingly discredited. T&E said: “Corsia is essentially an attempt by industry to dismantle the only effective measure in place to address aviation emissions – the ETS – and replace it with a weak and uncertain Corsia. The motivation is clear: emissions trading is working, but as the rules for Corsia get close to finalisation they are being weakened to the point where Corsia will have next to no environmental benefit.” That’s why industry is lobbying the EC to accept the Corsia rules without reservation. Three NGOs working on aviation’s climate impact, T&E, AEF and Carbon Market Watch, have written to the EC, calling on it to keep aviation as part of the ETS, and object to Corsia’s draft rules, that prevent the EU being able to regulate its aviation emissions.
UN climate science body’s (IPCC) report highlights that aviation must accelerate emissions reductions
The IPCC’s Special Report on trying to keep global warming to 1.5C highlights that we are not on target to keep global warming to below 2 degrees C much less 1.5C as countries agreed to in the Paris Agreement in 2015. Most notably, the report shows that progress in the transportation sector is lagging behind and needs to start its own transformation immediately This includes the global aviation sector. Some downplay the extent of aviation’s climate impact – some 5% of global warming when accounting for both CO2 and climate effects at altitude. The international portion of aviation’s emissions was “excluded” from the Paris Agreement and is being addressed entirely inadequately by the UN’s ICAO instead. But the IPCC report makes clear that cutting emissions from the fast growing aviation sector is essential. ICSA (the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation) says: “The IPCC makes clear that, without action on this major and growing source of emissions, the goal of limiting a temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C cannot be achieved. The report’s finding that efficiency improvements alone aren’t enough is a wake-up call to governments to put aviation on a flightpath to decarbonization to ensure the sector plays its part in delivering a zero-carbon future.”
Environmental NGOs write to European Commission asking that they do not allow CORSIA to replace the ETS for aviation
AEF, along with Carbon Market Watch and Transport & Environment, recently wrote to the European Commission to warn against any decision taken to exclude aviation from the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) before details of ICAO’s offsetting scheme (known as CORSIA) have been firmly established. The EU ETS covers only intra-EU flights and requires airlines to surrender sufficient carbon permits to cover their CO2 emissions in the previous year. CORSIA (Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation), a global market-based measure, was agreed in 2016 and its first phase is due to come into effect in 2021. Under CORSIA, operators will be expected to buy carbon credits equivalent to the additional carbon the sector emits above its 2020 level, for international flights globally. The aviation industry would like to see CORSIA take over from the ETS and replace it, as it is weaker and less effective in reducing CO2 emissions. The NGO’s letter asks that the European Commission should not allow CORSIA to replace the ETS for aviation, as CORSIA has many unresolved issues and well as “environmental weakness and lack of alignment with European climate ambition”.
Shipping sector notes that its CO2 targets are far tighter than for aviation sector
Now that shipping has been set its first ever CO2 reduction targets, the sector has taken a swipe at its aviation cousins who remain the last large unregulated greenhouse gas emitter. Speaking last week at the annual Summit of Transport Ministers, hosted by the OECD International Transport Forum inLeipzig, Simon Bennett (deputy secretary general at the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) commented: “As well as being consistent with the 1.5 degree climate change goal, the IMP targets are far more ambitious than what has so far been agreed for aviation, or indeed the commitments made by governments with respect to the rest of the global economy under the Paris Agreement.” In April this year, IMO member states voted to slash shipping’s CO2 emissions by half by 2050 from levels recorded in 2008. Also of note in the speech given by Bennett last week was his belief that the IMP targets “can realistically only be achieved with the development and global roll out of genuine zero CO2 fuels”.
Beyond ICAO’s CORSIA: It will NOT deliver the necessary aviation CO2 cuts, and more ambition is needed for it to be effective
In a useful paper, Chris Lyle (with a long, impressive academic and industry pedigree) writes of how the ICAO’S CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) – that rather implausibly aims for “carbon-neutral growth” from 2020 onward – cannot produce a reduction in global aviation CO2 emissions. He instead suggests ways in which CORSIA needs to be modified, in order to more more ambitious – and achieve carbon reduction cuts from the sector. He suggests that the legal and governance framework and the implementation process of CORSIA should require the aviation CO2 emissions of each country to be part of their obligations under the Paris Agreement, and there should be a more a direct role for the UNFCCC in determining eligibility of emission units and alternative fuels. Much more ambition is needed, and even if the aviation industry manages to find “alternative” fuels that are genuinely environmentally sustainable (doubtful at any scale ….) they will not provide the carbon emission cuts required. Aviation should not be one of the only industries allowed to continue to increase its CO2 emissions, year after year. [Unfortunately, the UK is trying to claim it need not be concerned about aviation CO2, as it is all being adequately dealt with by the CORSIA scheme. It is not.]
IMO: Shipping sector agrees to tackle its CO2 but faster action needed to meet Paris climate goals (aviation still avoiding real CO2 cuts)
International shipping and international aviation are the two sectors omitted from the Paris Agreement. But now the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has agreed on an initial strategy to decarbonise international shipping and reduce CO2 emissions from ships by at least 50% by 2050. The agreement keeps a window open for the sector to help meet the Paris climate goals. Though a welcome first step, the IMO must now build on the agreed minimum target of 50% reductions in subsequent reviews to comply with its fair share of emissions under the Paris Agreement. Aviation still only intends to offset the carbon emissions from its anticipated fast future growth, rather than actually reduce them. Kelsey Perlman, speaking for the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA) said: “Today’s outcome puts international shipping ahead of aviation … [it] should light a fire under ICAO, which has been dragging its feet for over a decade on a vision for long-term decarbonization, arriving only at the mid-term emissions target of carbon neutral growth from 2020 levels. The agreement on shipping emissions today should make people question whether aviation’s emissions should be allowed to grow with no concrete plan to decarbonize.”
Britain intends to stay in Europe’s ETS (including aviation) until at least 2020
Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Clare Perry, has confirmed that Britain intends to remain in Europe’s emission trading system (ETS) until at least the end of its 3rd trading phase (running from 2013-2020). The status of Britain’s participation in the scheme following the country’s exit from the European Union in March 2019 had been unclear until now. Formal agreement is still needed, but BEIS wanted to provide certainty for companies covered by the scheme until at least 2020. Currently aviation is included in the ETS, but after serious earlier opposition and difficulties, it covers only flights made within Europe, between European countries – none leaving, or entering, Europe. Clare Perry said Britain is committed to using a price on carbon as a means to reduce emissions but would use the country’s exit from the European Union to “take the opportunity to see if there are other opportunities” to achieve this.
“If we’re going to offset airplanes’ CO2 emissions, we should at least do it right” – blog by Andrew Murphy (from T&E)
The global aviation industry hopes to be able to be able to continue growing, fast, and emitting ever more carbon – while claiming this is all “offset” by carbon credits from elsewhere. In an excellent article, Andrew Murphy from T&E explains some of the problems, and why what is currently on offer is not even near to being effective. The UN scheme for aviation CO2 is called CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) is already very weak, as it only aims to offset CO2 above 2020 levels . That is far short of what the Paris agreement requires. And because participation in CORSIA is voluntary, the scheme will fall short of this 2020 target. Offsets are so cheap and the target is so weak that the resulting cost will also do nothing to incentivise greater efficiencies from within the aviation sector. But offsetting itself has huge problems: 1). There is no proper way ICAO can enforce CORSIA and ensure airlines and states abide by the rules. 2). There is little guarantee with many sorts of offsets, the cheapest in particular, that they deliver any real CO2 reductions. And 3). There are serious questions about the use of alternative fuels, as if airlines are allowed to count the use them against any offsetting obligation. So the sustainability rules for alternative fuels need to be as tight as they are for offsets. ICAO is consulting on its standards till the 5th March.
Non-CO2 climate impacts of aviation mean it is 2 – 3 times more damaging than the industry claims
While IATA considers global aviation accounts for about 2% of man-made CO2 emissions, this is a serious underestimate of the sector’s impact on climate change. According to Professor Dr Volker Grewe, a researcher on atmospheric physics at Delft in Holland, air transport’s contribution to climate change is roughly 5%. This is because in addition to emitting CO2, aircraft flying at altitude impact the atmosphere in various ways which have a large, albeit transient, additional warming effect. The main contributors of aviation-induced radiative forcing are: CO2, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and contrail/cirrus cloud formation. As are the contrails and resultant cloud formation which trap radiation escaping from the Earth, and the effect is very significant. However, the effect is smaller in some parts of the globe than others, so small reductions in the non-CO2 impact could be achieved from a bit of re-routing. Optimising the speed and cruise altitude also help a bit. However, the EU emissions trading system for aviation ignores non-CO2 impacts. Brussels NGO T&E says the non-CO2 impacts should be included. “When aviation was included in the ETS in 2008 the directive in fact called on the European Commission to assess the non-CO2 impacts and propose action. Nothing transpired but this call was renewed in the revisions to the directive agreed last year requesting the Commission to assess and propose by 2020. The time to act is well overdue.”
REDD forest CO2 offsets used by Virgin shown to be ineffective – much of the forest has been cut down
Virgin Atlantic tries to make out that it is a “green” and responsible airline. It has given its passengers the chance to buy “carbon offsets” to pay for the carbon emitted because they flew. But it has emerged that the forest project, in Cambodia, that Virgin got its passengers to obtain carbon credits from is wholly inadequate. While the hope is that buying an “offset” means carbon is taken out of the atmosphere somewhere, the reality is that forest offsets do not work reliably. The scheme used by Virgin, they said in good faith, only seems to monitor forest project to ensure they meet the necessary criteria, every 5 years. The scheme Virgin used was checked in 2013, and seemingly the right boxes were ticked. Subsequently much of the forest was cleared by the Cambodian military. It no longer exists. So any carbon “offsets” bought by passengers are worthless. Carbon has NOT been taken out of the air – there is cleared land instead. This demonstrates that forest offsets should not be used. They would only work if forest is kept complete and healthy for decades. That cannot be guaranteed. Virgin has now admitted the scheme has not worked and has pulled out of it. Worryingly, this sort of cheap forest “offset” is exactly what ICAO hopes to use, in its CORSIA scheme, to give the impression that growing aviation CO2 is being mopped up elsewhere.
“We can live with this”: How Europe allowed Airbus to write its own CO2 rules
Transport & Environment (T&E) report that e-mail exchanges between the European Commission (EC) and Airbus show how the company was offered privileged access to the EU decision-making process, allowing it to write its own environmental rules. Emails released to T&E after an 18 month-long appeal process confirm that when drafting CO2 rules for aircraft, the EC – the regulator – gave Airbus (the regulated company) – privileged access to the EU decision-making process and allowed Airbus to determine the EU position. The result is a standard which does nothing to cut carbon emissions. The CO2 emissions from aircraft are not regulated, which is a key reason why the sector’s CO2 continues to soar. In late 2016 ICAO finally agreed a very weak global deal (CORSIA) that – under heavy influence from the aviation industry, requires them to make no changes to their plans. But instead of genuinely attempting to push Airbus and Boeing to speed up emission cuts and efficiency gains, the EU executive worked closely with Airbus to ensure the new rules would have no impact. Andrew Murphy, from T&E, explains how Airbus got to write its own regulations, so the standards were in line with what suited Airbus. Instead, carbon policies need to be decided in a fair and transparent manner.
Willie Walsh says aviation climate goals through CORSIA insufficient
Aviation’s global climate goals are not enough in the long term, according to IAG boss Willie Walsh, who said the sector eventually faces being suppressed by governments if it cannot achieve environmental sustainability. He believes that though having to submit to the CORSIA scheme will cost airlines some money, the alternative would be much more expensive. That is why the scheme has been accepted by most airlines – it allows pretty much “business as usual” for years. Walsh says all airlines will have to join the scheme in due course, by 2027, though the first years after 2021 are voluntary. He believes there are benefits for the airlines that join in the early days, gaining experience of carbon trading – for when all airlines have to take part and buy carbon credits. Walsh appears to realise that if the aviation sector does not get a grip on its rising carbon emissions, and make CORSIA work, it might face worse restrictions if the world tries to meet goals of the Paris Agreement. He does not believe CORSIA alone is enough in the longer term, and the industry will have to have great carbon reduction ambition for the future after 2035.
Obscure aviation climate deal – ICAO’s CORSIA – could undermine the Paris Agreement
A new Columbia Law School report reveals major shortcomings in how the UN aviation agency (ICAO) interprets transparency and public participation requirements. The 36 member countries of ICAO met for closed talks in Montreal to discuss rules on its carbon offsetting scheme – known as CORSIA. Established in October 2016, the new carbon market is intended to compensate for the industry’s emissions growth above 2020 levels. But in addition tot he Columbia Law School report, new Carbon Market Watch analysis warns that a careful design of the rules is necessary to avoid undermining the goals of the Paris Agreement. The ICAO process needs to allow proper public scrutiny, to avoid being of low quality and trying to use illegitimate offsets. So far a lack of public scrutiny has allowed ICAO to develop climate policy in isolation, and this has serious and direct implications for the Paris Agreement. Unless there are clear rules for how CO2 reductions purchased by airline operators are accounted for, it is likely that there will be double counting of these cuts – risking the Paris goals. So far ICAO has kept the outcome of political meetings and important documents relating to the development of the CORSIA locked away from the public domain. By contrast, the IMP and UNFCCC generally provide engagement opportunities to the public
Likely that ICAO aims to drastically weaken “sustainability” standards for aviation biofuel, under CORSIA
The European Commission and EU member states look set to agree to almost entirely remove sustainability criteria for bio jet fuel at the UN’s aviation agency (ICAO) Council meeting in Montreal. ICAO hopes that extensive use of biofuels in future will enable aviation CO2 emissions to be reduced, so the industry’s continuous growth will not be hampered. Biofuels could only be properly environmentally sustainable in tiny quantities, if stringent standards are adhered to. But now the countries gathered at the ICAO meeting plan to trash 10 sustainability points out of 12, which will mean that highly unsustainable biofuels would qualify for the aviation’s global carbon offsetting scheme, CORSIA. These sustainability rules have implications beyond CORSIA because they will become the de facto global standard for biofuel use in the aviation sector. The 10 points would mean removal of rules on land rights, food security, labour rights and biodiversity protection. It is likely the 2 remaining are for a 10% greenhouse gas reduction target for biofuels compared to regular jet fuel, and a ban on crops grown on land that was deforested after 2009. The NGO Transport & Environment says this shows how the CORSIA scheme is a shambles, and the EU should withdraw from it.
Carbon Market Watch recommendations for COP23 – CORSIA for aviation needs better transparency and clarity
“Carbon Market Watch” has made recommendations for COP23 (the UN global climate talks in Bonn). They say on aviation: “Don’t let aviation undermine the Paris Agreement. In writing the Paris rulebook, it is essential to address the role of aviation and shipping, two sectors projected to take up to 40% of the carbon budget by 2050. This includes assessing both sectors’ ambition towards Paris goals in the Facilitative Dialogue and Global Stocktake and compatibility with the Paris Agreement on the Transparency Framework and accounting rules. The CORSIA is clearly not along term solution for aviation emissions in a world where all sectors must quickly reduce their own emissions. Without transparent, compatible rules, the CORSIA could end up increasing the overall emissions in the Paris Agreement by an equivalent of those from 817 coal fired power plants in a year.” And they say aviation and shipping should be integrated into the preparation and review of mitigation action of states. There should be formalised cooperation between ICAO and the UNFCCC on avoiding double counting, and information on offsets going to CORSIA participants in reports and updates under the Transparency Framework. Information on ICAO and IMO activities should be included in the global stocktake.
Airports’ climate programme relies on offsets excluded under EU laws – CORSIA must exclude “dodgy” offsets
Transport & Environment has found that airports are relying on offsets excluded under EU climate laws to help achieve their voluntary target of “carbon neutrality.” Airports’ efforts to reduce their CO2 emissions are welcome, but not worth much if the offset project types being used are highly unlikely to deliver promised emission reductions – and don’t qualify for the EU’s emissions trading system (EU ETS). The claims of carbon neutrality therefore cannot be credibly maintained without serious reforms to this programme. Many of the offset types being used (cheap) were long ago ruled inadmissible by the EU due to concerns over their environmental integrity. Airports are not required to publicly disclose which offsets they purchase. Athens airport relied on wind farm offsets originating in China – offsets which are unlikely to deliver additional emissions reductions (a necessary criterion) and are banned from the EU ETS. Andrew Murphy said: “Flawed programmes such as this are giving a green light to airport expansion and the resulting surge in aircraft emissions.” The ICAO CORSIA programme will approve its offset rules later in November. These must exclude aviation use of the dodgy offset projects.
European Commission moves to Brexit-proof Emissions Trading System
The European Commission has agreed on a new measure to protect its Emissions Trading System (ETS) against a potential breakdown in Brexit negotiations. The EU ETS sets a cap on the total emissions from electricity generation and enables UK-based industries to purchase emissions reductions from overseas. Member States met on 18th October to agree in principle to change ETS regulations to nullify any permits to emit greenhouse gases under the scheme if they are issued by a country that leaves the EU from January 2018 onwards. The UK is the 2nd largest CO2 emitter in the EU, and research suggests that a UK departure from the EU ETS would tighten the supply-demand balance of the system by around 745 million tonnes. The new measure is intended to stop potential sell-offs of permits if UK businesses are ejected from the market because of Brexit. The Committee on Climate Change found that if the UK did leave the ETS, the 5th carbon budget should be extended to a 61% emissions reduction by 2030. The recently-announced Clean Growth Strategy outlines the trajectory towards the approved 57% reduction, but analysis suggests the strategy will fall short. Aviation is only partly included in the ETS, with just intra-European flights.
European Parliament make progress on dealing with aviation non-CO2 impacts
The meeting on 17th October between the European Council and EU Parliament has finally come to an agreement on how to deal with non CO2 emissions. This is at least 9 years overdue. It opens a fundamentally new and important avenue of aviation climate mitigation work. The non-CO2 impacts on climate forcing are short-lived but they are potentially of great magnitude – potentially more than double CO2 according to the EC’s own assessment. A research consortium led by Professor David Lee will publish early next year a fresh report on non CO2 climate impacts. Then it will be necessary to follow through with further research including into ways to mitigate. The non-CO2 impacts issue is much more important in the northern hemisphere than the southern as there is where most land, and most flights, are. Europe is well placed to begin assessing what measures could potentially be implemented, such as operational re-routeing (altered flight levels) action on NOx, particulates and black carbon. The meeting reached a provisional agreement on a regulation to extend existing ETS provisions covering aviation beyond 2016 and to prepare for the implementation of CORSIA from 2021.
MEPs place limits on aviation ETS exemption and put airlines on intra-EU flights CO2 reduction path
MEPs have voted to limit the exemption from the EU ETS of flights to and from Europe until 2021, pending further information regarding ICAO’s offsetting measure ‘CORSIA’ (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation). It would be much more effective, in limiting aviation CO2 emissions by flights using European airports to have them all included. However, only flights between EU airports are now included in the ETS. But sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) welcomes this vote saying an indefinite exemption of flights to and from Europe would have been a blank cheque to ICAO. It would have been reckless, as it is not yet known how the CORSIA scheme will operate or how effective it will be. There is still no clarity on CORSIA rules on offset quality and enforcement, for future aviation carbon emissions. “Europe now has a leverage to make aviation contribute to our collective climate efforts as proportionally as other sectors of the EU economy should the global measure fail.” For intra-EU flights, MEPs have also voted to start reducing the cap in CO2 allowances from 2021, thus bringing aviation into line with other sectors covered by the EU ETS scheme. This is an important shift in the EU’s approach to aviation’s climate impact. They are also to look at aviation’s non-CO2 impacts, so far ignored.
Time to upgrade Europe’s aviation pollution rules – it should not be allowed to risk the Paris agreement
The European Parliament’s environment committee (ENVI) has voted on how the aviation sector should be treated under the EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), in response to a decision by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to set up a global offsetting mechanism. The ongoing revision of Europe’s carbon market rules for aviation is a critical opportunity to ensure that one of the biggest global polluters starts to contribute its fair share to EU climate action. While the term ‘sustainable aviation’ seems to be spreading, the reality is that the sector’s emissions are growing unsustainably and will continue to do so. Even if the global aviation deal is fully implemented and enforced, it will not curb the industry’s rising emissions. Though just intra-EU flights are included in the EU ETS, unlike other sectors – aviation is not expected to annually reduce its emissions. Add the fact that the industry is exempt from fuel taxes, VAT or legally-binding fuel efficiency requirements, and it becomes clear aviation enjoys very special treatment. While greenhouse gas emissions from all other sectors in the EU carbon market fell in 2016, those from aviation grew by 8%. This risks putting the goals of the Paris climate agreement out of reach. With no quick solutions in sight, the sector needs to pay a real price for its pollution. A high enough carbon price would help. Carbon Market Watch blog.
Calculator by T&E helps show how a reformed aviation ETS could work better (and raise climate finance)
Transport & Environment (T&E) have produced a new calculator which aims to show how the inclusion of aviation into the EU ETC could be helpful. (Only flights between EU countries are included at present, not others). T&E says if all flights were included, and paying a reasonable price for their carbon allowances, this would not only help reduce the sector’s major and growing climate impact, but it would also help Europe to raise climate finance it needs. T&E says European decision-makers should seize this opportunity offered by the ongoing reform of aviation provisions in the EU ETS. The aviation sector made up 4.5% of EU carbon emissions in 2015, and they rose by 8% in 2016. Though tiny improvements are made in fuel efficiency, operational changes etc, these are dwarfed by the huge annual growth in numbers of flights. The industry expects to continue to grow by about 4.7% per year. There are no realistic measures in place, or in the pipeline, to rein in aviation CO2 in the EU. But the aviation provisions in the EU ETS are currently being amended in response to the ICAO CORSIA deal to establish a global offsetting scheme from 2021 onwards. The new T&E calculator enables different components to be varied, to see the effect on CO2, and on raising climate finance.
Trump administration considering whether to remain in ICAO aviation emissions agreement, CORSIA
US President Donald Trump announcing on June 1 that the US will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. The ICAO aviation emissions agreement is now ‘under review’ by his administration. It has not decided whether the US government will remain committed to the ICAO aviation emissions agreement and is unlikely to make a decision soon. The Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is set to go into effect in 2021. So far, 70 countries, including the US, have committed to participating in the agreement’s voluntary phases from 2021-2026. The Obama administration committed the US to CORSIA when it was adopted in autumn 2016. A State Department spokesperson said the Paris accord and CORSIA “are separate international agreements with different implications” and Trump’s Paris decision “does not signal the US position on CORSIA.” However, it is thought likely that US commitment to CORSIA is weakened. The global aviation industry, through IATA, back the CORSIA agreement, largely because it is so weak and ineffective that is does very little indeed to prevent continuation of growth and “business as usual.” It avoids the industry having problems with stronger regional controls on carbon emissions.
Despite Trump, EU and China to back climate deal – to include aviation and shipping
A leaked document shows EU and China are more convinced of climate strategy than ever and willing to ensure aviation and shipping contribute to domestic and international measures. The EU and China are expected to announce plans to reinforce co-operation on delivering a climate deal for shipping at the IMO. This comes after US President Trump confirming that the US is pulling out of the Paris Accord. The EU and China say they “consider climate action and the clean energy transition an imperative more important than ever” and they will “ensure that aviation and shipping contribute to combating climate change, including both through domestic measures and international co-operation.” The 19th bilateral summit between the EU and China is taking place on June 1-2 in Brussels. The aim is to advance on the strategic partnership between the EU and China. Further agreement will be made on the importance of emissions trading schemes as a cost-effective climate policy tool. The statement says the EU and China will reinforce bilateral co-operation activities on emissions trading in the context of reforming the EU ETS and starting a national ETS in China this year. Transport & Environment (T&E) director for transport and aviation Bill Hemmings welcomed the reports on future co-operation on climate change.
Leading economists warn that very high carbon tax, starting soon, needed to avoid climate catastrophe
A group of leading economists have warned that the world risks catastrophic global warming in just 13 years unless countries raise taxes on CO2 emissions to as much as $100 (£77) per metric tonne. Experts including Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern believe governments must impose a tax on CO2 of $40-$80 per tonne by 2020, to limit emissions from high carbon polluting industries. The price needs to rise to $50-$100 by 2030. This would be needed to attempt to prevent global temperature rising above 2C, in line with targets set by the Cop21 Paris Agreement in 2015. In a report by the High Level Commission on Carbon Prices, backed by the World Bank and the IMF, the authors suggest poor countries could aim for a lower tax, as their economies are more vulnerable. Currently though Europe talks the talk on carbon, the EU carbon trading system currently charges major polluters just €6 (£5.20) for every tonne of CO2, which is far too low to have any impact. Stiglitz and Stern say CO2 prices should rise now, to give businesses and governments the necessary incentive to lower CO2 emissions even when fossil fuels are cheap. The rise in the cost of carbon, if the aviation industry was included, would have a significant impact on the cost of air travel, reducing demand slightly.
European aviation CO2: there should be no free ride for the aviation sector – Peter Liese
Peter Liese, who has been the rapporteur on aviation carbon legislation in the European Commission, has commented that the aviation sector should be doing more to cut carbon. He said the proposal by the European Commission to at least keep intra-European flights in the ETS is a basis for negotiations but the sector should contribute as much to emission reductions as other industries do. He said the Parliament will continue to exert pressure for ambitious climate protection measures in intercontinental flights. He welcomed the proposal to have a reducing cap on the carbon of intra-European flights, as this imposed the same linear reduction factor to aviation as for other industries. “The previous treatment was unfair to other sectors, like the steel industry, where many people are worried about their jobs. How can you tell a steelworker that his company has to meet high climate protection requirements, while other economic sectors do practically nothing?” However, the deal planned by ICAO “is by no means ambitious.” He proposes that the EU “should continue to exempt intercontinental flights until 2021, but then reinstate them if the ICAO rules are not clear. We should also include flights to countries which, like Russia, refuse to join the ICAO agreement.” Trump and Putin should not dictate what we do in Europe.
EU to continue with only intra-EU flights in the ETS, and all long haul excluded – at least for several years
The European Commission has published its proposal for aviation in the EU ETS, covering both the remainder of the 3rd trading period and the 4th trading period (that was left out of last year’s proposal). This says that flights to and from Europe will remain excluded from ETS, this time indefinitely. But flights within Europe remain in the ETS, and from 2021 onwards they’ll be subject to a declining cap (until now this cap was static). That is welcome, as it is the means by which emissions are reduced. However, this hugely diminished version of aviation inclusion in the ETS has meant, since 2013, excluding flights to and from Europe, which represent about 75% of the sector’s CO2. The Commission will review things in a few years to see how ICAO’s global market based measure [offsetting] is getting on. The review might even decide to apply ETS to all flights, or it could abolish aviation ETS entirely. Commenting on the EC proposal, Bill Hemmings from Transport & Environment (T&E) said: “The Commission has chosen to again suspend the only effective measure to regulate aviation emissions, all for a voluntary deal which is years from coming into operation and which may never actually reduce the climate impact of flying. By letting aviation off the hook again, other sectors will now have to do more on cutting their climate emissions even while air travel demand soars.”
A reformed EU ETS would cut almost 4 times more aircraft CO2 in Europe than ICAO’s global scheme
A reformed and full scope EU ETS would deliver substantially more savings than ICAO’s measure over the period 2021-2035, and that’s especially the case for flights within Europe. When aviation was included in the ETS in 2012, it covered all flights within, into and out of Europe. Due to huge opposition from countries such as the USA, the ETS was altered in 2013 to include only flights within Europe. ICAO finally came up with a very weak and incomplete global deal in October. New analysis for T&E shows that with the original full ETS in place, and with a cap on carbon emissions, the reduction in emissions from flights into, out of and within Europe would be four times as great than with the weak new ICAO scheme, during the period 2021 – 2035. The study comes as MEPs this week vote on proposals to reform the EU ETS. The proposals include a progressive decrease of both the cap on aircraft emissions and of free allowances available to airlines, thus bringing aviation into line with obligations on other industries. Just considering the CO2 from flights inside Europe, the full ETS would mitigate about 950 Mt of CO2 while ICAO’s scheme, (on the same flights) would mitigate a maximum of about 270 Mt (2021 – 2035). If a scheme as strong as the ETS scheme was introduced globally, it would be hugely more effective than the ICAO plan, which may only mitigate a maximum of about 2,700 Mt by 2035.
ICAO’s aviation offsetting deal is a weak start – now countries must go further to cut CO2
A deal was finally agreed by ICAO on 6th October. It was progress, in that there had never been any sort of agreement on global aviation CO2 emissions before. But it was not a great deal – and far too weak to provide the necessary restriction on the growth of global aviation CO2. It came in the same week that the Paris Agreement crossed its crucial threshold to enter into force, but the ICAO deleted key provisions for the deal to align its ambitions with the Paris aim of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees with best efforts to not exceed 1.5 degrees C. Tim Johnson, Director of AEF and the lead representative of The International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA) – the official environmental civil society observer at the global negotiations, said in relation to the UK: “But while today’s deal is applauded, this international effort falls well short of the effort required to bring UK aviation emissions in line with the Climate Change Act. With a decision on a new runway expected later this month, the UK’s ambition for aviation emissions must match the ambition of the Climate Change Act, and not simply the ICAO global lowest common denominator of carbon neutral growth from 2020. The ICAO scheme could make a contribution towards the ambition of the Climate Change Act, but it does not solve the whole problem.”
Report shows EU’s ‘imperfect’ ETS still outperforms draft UN aviation deal on aviation CO2
When in April 2014 the EU agreed, reluctantly, to “stop the clock” on its inclusion of aviation in the ETS (Emissions Trading System) it was on the condition that this limiting of the scheme would be re-assessed in 2017, depending if ICAO had come up with an effective scheme to restrict aviation CO2 by then. Currently the EU ETS only includes carbon from flights within, (not to and from) the EU. But the deal that ICAO is likely to sign up to next month looks as if it will fail, by being too small in its scope, voluntary not obligatory, and depending on unknown biofuels and technologies in future, no environmental safeguards, as well as unreliable carbon offsets which may not in practice cut CO2 emissions. It will not meet ICAO’s stated goal of “carbon neutral growth” from 2020. Therefore, as the ICAO scheme does not meet the requirements of the EU, in order to suspend its ETS, the EU may find it necessary to revert to its full ETS system, to include flights out of (maybe also into) the EU as well as flights within the EU. The EU needs to ensure it gets agreement through ICAO that it can continue to include aviation in its ETS. The ETS scheme had its faults, but used emissions allowances instead of dubious offsets, was binding instead of voluntary, and include all CO2 emissions. To be fully effective, the cap on aviation carbon in the EU scheme needs to reduce each year. A new report “Aviation ETS – gaining altitude” sets out the details of how the ETS could work in future.
China, US and EU reported to have pledged to join the weak, voluntary, initial stages of ICAO scheme for CO2
It is reported that China, Europe and the US have pledged to join the initial voluntary phases of ICAO’s carbon-offsetting scheme designed to give international aviation a chance of achieving it goal of “carbon-neutral growth” after 2020. On 3rd September, the 44 member states of the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) committed to being part of ICAO’s global market-based measure (MBM) scheme “from the start”. On the same day the US and China said they “expect to be early participants” in the global MBM, also called the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA. On 2nd September ICAO released a revised text that will be presented for adoption by the ICAO Assembly in early October. This makes participation voluntary in the pilot and first phases of the scheme, covering 2021-26. The MBM will become mandatory only in the 2nd phase, covering 2027-35, with exemptions for countries with only a small share of international aviation activity in 2018. India and Russia are opposed to joining the global MBM. Under the CORSIA scheme, airlines would “offset” additional CO2 growth beyond 2019-20 levels by buying credits from designated environmental projects.There are concerns about REDD forestry credits being used. ICAO estimates the cost to airlines would only be at most 1.4% of total revenues, by 2035. Far less till then.
MEPs shocked by ‘secretive’ and unacceptably unambitious ICAO plan to cut aviation CO2 emissions
A meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment has been told of the way a possible agreement by ICAO next month – on global aviation carbon emissions – has been watered down. MEPs were informed of the likely 6-year delay, with the scheme for a global market based mechanism (GMBM) not taking effect properly until 2027, rather than in 2021 that had been foreseen. Opt-in to the GMBM scheme before 2027 would be voluntary, but mandatory from 2027 through to 2035. There will be exemptions for poor nations, and even after 2027 the participation of the least developed countries and small island states would remain voluntary only. EU deputies said they were “shocked” to learn how many concessions the EU was prepared to make at the Montreal meeting, which took place in May behind closed doors. Then, to make matters yet worse, “a special review in 2032 will determine whether the mechanism will be continued,” taking into account progress made as part of a related “basket of measures” which includes “CO2 standards for aircraft”, technological improvements, air traffic management and alternative fuels. In a rare show of unity, Parliament representatives from across the political spectrum urged the EU to be more aggressive in the negotiation. Bas Eckhout, a Dutch MEP, said what is on offer now is not acceptable.
India to summarily reject ICAO’s proposed market based measure for aviation CO2 emissions
ICAO is meant to be getting global agreement in October on some way to control the growth of the aviation sector’s emissions. However, India – which has a relatively new and very fast growing aviation industry – is not willing to accept anything that might cost the industry money or slow its growth. The purpose of some form of market based mechanism, agreed through ICAO, is for airlines to have to buy carbon permits to offset CO2 emissions above their level in 2020. That works by the airlines having to spend money on the permits, with the likely effect of slowing growth. Airlines are naturally not keen, which is why ICAO has made virtually zero progress on this over several decades. Officials from India’s civil aviation ministry say Indian airlines are not willing to abide by the proposed “tax”. India as a country has pledged to reduce CO2 emissions, as committed at the UN Climate Change Agreement in Paris last December. Carbon emissions from Indian aviation could double from their 2011 level by 2020, but India considers itself to be a “developing country” although in many respects it no longer is. ICAO proposes allowing developing countries special leeway with their carbon emissions, but this is intended for small countries that are far less rich – and with far less thriving aviation industries – than India.
ICAO agreement to get global aviation industry to limit CO2 may just be “voluntary” for years
ICAO is meeting in Montreal from 27th September to 7th October, with the intention of agreeing some mechanism globally to limit, or trade, aviation carbon emissions in future. However, aviation was not included in the Paris agreement, and ICAO has made little progress in getting airlines internationally to agree measures that would be effective. Aviation should contribute to the global ambition of limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees C (or 1.5 degrees C ideally) above pre-industrial levels. Now it appears that there may not even be a mandatory system, but just a voluntary one for the first 5 years for certain countries. This apparently is not yet meant to be public knowledge. Environmental groups said a voluntary first phase waters down a deal that already exempts too many countries, including most developing states, during its first five years. It will not achieve the ambition of making aviation making a fair contribution on the needed emissions reductions, especially if the largest carbon emitters do not join it. Airlines from countries that voluntarily participate would have to limit their emissions or offset them by buying carbon credits from designated environmental projects around the world.
Guangdong will include aviation sector in its carbon market (South China)
11 July 2016 (Enerdata) The Guangdong province will include the aviation sector in its pilot scheme for trading CO2 emissions that will be integrated in a national carbon market in 2017.
The Guangdong emission trading scheme was introduced in December 2013 and covers 189 companies handing over 365 million permits in 2015 (-1.4% from 2014). The province government will set aside 21 million permits for quarterly auctions, that will start in September 2016 (2 million permits will be available for sale). On 20 June (annual deadline for companies to surrender permits to the local government), 33 million permits had been traded (31% of the total number traded in China), corresponding to a 100% compliance rate this year. China will implement a national CO2 cap-and-trade scheme as of 2017, to limit and and put a price on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. So far, China has already implemented seven local carbon exchanges in two provinces (Hubei and Guangdong) and in five large cities, namely Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chongqing. http://www.enerdata.net/enerdatauk/press-and-publication/energy-news-001/guangdong-will-include-aviation-sector-its-carbon-market-china_37669.html
Bill Hemmings: An ICAO deal that falls well short of “carbon-neutral growth” target will have no credibility
Bill Hemmings, (from T&E) explains the hurdles to ICAO agreeing an environmentally meaningful deal in October. The global aviation sector needs to play its part in the international aspiration, from the Paris Agreement, to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C, or 2 degrees at worst. However, ICAO is not looking as if this is likely, largely due to the differences between historical and current CO2 emissions, and current and future growth rates, between airlines from countries (US and Europe largely) with historic aviation sectors, and those of developing countries, with young aviation industries. Ways to apportion the CO2 fairly need to be agreed, but solutions favour one group or the other. The developing countries (including Brazil, South Africa, and Nigeria) want their aviation CO2 to be exempted from any scheme. But emissions gap would amount to around 40-50% of the total, and so directly threatens the integrity of the commitment to carbon neutral growth from 2020, to which IATA pays lip service. Then there is the problem how to determine what percentage of emissions above the 2020 baseline airlines should have to offset each year. European and US airline CO2 is barely growing, but the CO2 from some is rising by 8% per year. US airlines do not want to pay for this. The issues are complicated. Read Bill’s explanation.
New petition demanding real action to address global aviation CO2 – not ineffective use of “REDD” offsets
The group REDD-Monitor and other organisations have a petition asking people to sign up, to oppose the use by the global aviation industry, through ICAO, of “offsets” for its emissions using forestry. These offsets, through REDD or REDD+ (meaning (‘Reduce Deforestation from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’) would be very cheap and available in huge numbers. They would not be an effective way to compensate for growing aviation carbon emissions. The industry’s only plan to control its CO2 emissions, while doubling them, is buying credits from other sectors. In April 2016, more than 80 NGOs put out a statement opposing the aviation sector’s carbon offsetting plans through use of REDD credits. There are many really serious problems with REDD credits. Some are: They would only use large forestry institutions, or monoculture farming, not small landowners or forest peoples. Most REDD projects are not those that tackle the real drivers of large-scale deforestation – extraction of oil, coal, mining, infrastructure, large-scale dams, industrial logging etc. REDD credits carry the additional risk of becoming null and void when wildfires, storms or natural decay cause uncontrollable release of carbon stored. There are serious risks of lack of monitoring, and of fraud. REDD offsets should not be allowed for aviation carbon credits.
ICAO still very far from any effective means of limiting aviation CO2 to be in line with Paris Agreement
Operating without fuel taxes, VAT, legally-binding fuel efficiency requirements or limits on its CO2 emissions, the aviation sector operates in something of a parallel universe. ICAO will have an opportunity to finally take a step forward on climate action. ICAO will discuss the impact of the Paris Agreement on the sector, and specifically the next steps for an aviation carbon offsetting scheme currently under negotiation. Their earlier response to the Paris Agreement was to try to give the impression that the sector is making huge progress. In reality, industry lobbyists succeeded in preventing an explicit reference to aviation in the text. But the globally-agreed goal of striving to limit global warming to 1.5C does apply to aviation. All ICAO Parties are also Parties to the Paris Agreement. If they let aviation off the hook, the target 1.5 degree, or even 2 degree, global target will simply be impossible to reach. The aviation sector will have to act – rapidly and radically – on climate if the Paris goal can be achieved. But ICAO’s current proposals are a very inadequate first step, and the industry plans for up to 300% growth by 2050. Even their modest goal of buying carbon permits to offset aviation carbon is not ambitious enough, as proposed exemptions for airlines of less developed countries amount to about 40% of global aviation CO2.
ICAO aviation offset market talks yield little progress, but backtracking on previous agreement
ICAO has concluded 3 days of talks to try to achieve a deal on a market-based offsetting mechanism for international aviation emissions from 2020. It has not made much progress. The industry has expressed the hope of “carbon neutral growth” after 2020, which means continuing to grow and emit more carbon, but buying offsets from other sectors that actually do cut CO2 emissions. Unless this is done, the prospect of the world achieving a limit of global temperature of 2 degrees C is remote. However, there are difficult issues to be resolved, of how to divide up the offsetting responsibilities between fast-growing airlines in emerging economies, and established carriers often with older, less fuel-efficient fleets and based in the industrialised world. Neither side will accept being disadvantaged. There have been proposals to try out a “pilot” scheme, and delay the 2020 date. Either way, the ICAO scheme only intends to cover international flights, not domestic – which form a large proportion in countries like the USA and China. That means only about 62% of the total aviation CO2, assuming the EU counts as a single bloc (more like 40% otherwise). Airlines do not want a patchwork of different systems in different parts of the world.
European Commission consultation on market-based measures to reduce the climate change impact from international aviation
The European Commission currently has a consultation, (ends 30th May) on market-based measures (MBM) to reduce the climate change impact from international aviation. Flights to and from Europe were included in the EU Emissions Trading System until the “clock was stopped” after huge opposition. Now only internal flights within the EU are included. But the full ETS is due to snap back, into its full form, by the end of 2016 – unless ICAO has come up with an effective mechanism for restricting global aviation CO2 emissions. But the ICAO talks are not going well. The EU (DG Clima) needs to decide what to do, in the absence of a proper ICAO proposal for a global MBM. DG Clima also needs to propose amendments to the aviation part of the EU ETS with regard to the post 2020 period with the intention of aligning aviation with the 2030 carbon reduction target. The EC is seeking input from all relevant stakeholders to develop new legislation in light of the ICAO Assembly. The environmental NGOs dealing with this say it is vital that the EU retains a strong role for aviation in its, hopefully reformed, ETS. International flights to or from the EU should be fully incorporated in the EU ETS from 2017 onwards, as no GMBM will be in place before 2021. From 2021 on, the scope covered by the EU ETS should depend on the strength of the GMBM ambition, as well as on measures implemented by other countries.
NGOs call on ICAO not to use REDD+ carbon credits – forests & soils cannot offset aviation CO2
The organisation, FERN* has published a letter signed by around 82 environmental NGOs around the world, calling on the global aviation sector through ICAO to actually reduce carbon emissions, rather than just the proposed use of carbon offsetting. The NGOs say plans to offset most of the sector’s growth in emissions are a significant distraction from real measures to reduce aviation emissions. Under business-as-usual, aviation is projected to increase emissions by between 300 – 700% by 2050, despite only being used by well below 10% of the world’s population. The NGOs are particularly concerned that carbon offsets that are inappropriate and unreliable would be used, as ICAO is considering a carbon offset system called REDD+ (‘Reduce Deforestation from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’). The NGOs say REDD+ credits should not be used, as they do not even meet ICAO’s own standards, and include double counting. REDD+ projects that tackle the real drivers of large-scale deforestation – extraction of oil, coal, mining, infrastructure, large-scale dams, industrial logging and international trade in agricultural commodities – are largely absent. There is also a risk that agricultural offsets would favour large-scale farmers or monoculture farming practices. These are not suitable offsets for aviation.
US and China will sign the Paris deal – raising hopes for ICAO agreement on MBM in September
China and the US, the world’s two leading carbon polluters, have said they plan to formally join the Paris climate agreement in April. In a joint statement, they agreed to sign the historic deal to cut CO2 emissions and take “respective domestic steps” to approve it as “early as possible this year.” They also urge other nations to follow suit. The support from these two means the Paris deal is closer to coming into force. Over 55% of global carbon emissions and 55 countries must formally join for the Paris Agreement to apply from 2020. China and the US account for about 40%. The US Environmental Defense Fund said that support this year for a global market-based measure to address greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation is also very important. “A strong agreement at the 2016 ICAO Assembly is one of the top global priorities for climate change this year — and a key part of President Obama’s legacy.” They hope the Chinese and US commitment may encourage other countries in ICAO to act, and open a pathway to resolving the key question of how to share, fairly, the responsibilities for offsetting future aviation emissions. There are only 190 days till the conclusion of the ICAO Assembly in Montreal.
ICAO progress on a CO2 “market based mechanism” stalled by differences between developed and developing countries
International aviation talks at the UN body, ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) have hit a roadblock over a plan to limit CO2 emissions for aircraft. The reason is a clash between developed and developing countries on how they view their “common but differentiated responsibilities.” High-level officials from the EU, the USA, China, and others are scrambling to devise the plan before an ICAO governing council meeting in May. A special meeting has been called for April in Montreal for policy makers from about a dozen countries to confer on the plan. It hopes to agree a plan for “carbon-neutral growth” (ie. an MBM – a “market based measure” that means not cutting aviation CO2 but buying permits from other sectors, which do actually reduce emissions) in the aviation sector from 2020 onwards. However the MBM has to be agreed by all the 190 ICAO member countries in September, or risk the EU breaking off talks and imposing its own emissions trading scheme (ETS) on international airlines. The CO2 emissions from global aviation would be – if it was a country – the 7th largest. The problem is developing countries with fast growing aviation sectors such as China and India want to be allowed to emit more and grow. But countries with long developed aviation sectors do not want to be disadvantaged relatively. There are difficulties to do with competition and the ICAO’s own principle of non-discrimination.
ICAO proposal to slightly reduce CO2 emissions from new planes, only after 2023, not seen as sufficiently ambitious
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations’ aviation agency, has approved the first-ever binding agreement to achieve CO2 emissions reductions from new aircraft. New efficiency standards will apply to all new commercial jets delivered after 2028, as well as existing jets produced from 2023. This might achieve a cut in CO2 of about 4% in cruise fuel consumption, compared to the level in 2015. This is a very low level of ambition. Environmental groups, specifically the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) said the proposed standards were a missed opportunity and would have little real effect in curbing emissions. The standard excludes aircraft that are already in use, and as most airlines have lifetimes of 20-30 years, it will take decades to cover the current fleet. ICCT says some of the top performing commercial aircraft were already achieving the standard – with room to spare. By 2020, 8 years before the proposed standards were even due to come into effect, the average aircraft would already be 10% more efficient than the ICAO standard. ICAO recognised that “the projected doubling of global passengers and flights by 2030 must be managed responsibly and sustainably.” However, this does very little to achieve that. The exclusion high CO2 emitting international aviation and shipping was a major weakness of the Paris Agreement in December.
ICAO trying to negotiate standards for fuel efficiency requirements for new and future planes
Talks are going on – till 12th February – in Montreal at ICAO, on global fuel efficiency standards for aircraft. The proposals would mean makers of the world’s largest passenger jets would be forced to upgrade models currently in production, or stop producing certain models as early as 2023 (or maybe 2028). Planes currently flying are not included. Big improvements in aircraft CO2 emissions are needed, as the sector was left out of the Paris agreement. The sector intends to continue growing fast – with emissions rising much faster than any feasible fuel efficiencies. As well as the fuel efficiency of planes, ICAO is meant to be (after 6 years) finalising a “market-based mechanism” for all airlines later this year – as a two-part strategy. There are differences between countries on how tight the fuel efficiency standard should be, on a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being the best). The US and Canada are pushing for more stringent targets than the EU. Environmental groups say the EU is dragging its feet. Airbus may have to change the engines on the A380, and the Boeing 747-8 may no longer be produced. Aircraft makers are not keen on having to make costly improvements to planes now in production. The tougher standard for new designs could go into effect by 2020.
ICAO rejects request by 5 MEPs to attend meeting on CO2 emissions from aviation
The UN’s agency for aviation, the ICAO, has a Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP), that looks at the problem of carbon emissions from aviation globally. There will be a meeting of CAEP in Montreal, from 8 to 12 February. Its aim is to talk about how offsetting CO2 emissions would work globally, how fuel burn will be measured, and who will be reported to. It is a technical meeting to discuss moves to create a market-based mechanism to make airlines pay for their CO2 output. The CAEP will also look at greening planes, with a new fuel efficiency standard. Now five MEPs (four from the Parliament’s Environment Committee and one from the Transport Committee) have requested, through the EC President, Jean-Claude Juncker, that they attend the meeting of CAEP, due to their interest in the CO2 emissions issue. However, their request has been rejected, though some MEPs will have a meeting in May. The CAEP drafts environmental rules and has 22 states and 15 observers, made up of other states, industry and one NGO. The way the UN process works is that the CAEP agrees a standard, which is then sent to the ICAO Council for formal approval. Nine of the 22 voting states are European. The EU also contributes about one third of ICAO’s funding.
Europe falls behind US in new plans to tackle CO2 emissions from planes
The aviation industry is growing so fast that, on current trends, it could make up 22% of global emissions by 2050, according to a European Parliament study. However, Europe’s proposals for a landmark international fuel efficiency standard for aircraft would save considerably less carbon emissions than those put forward by the US. The US plan could cut emissions by 37.5%, and the EU proposal by 33%. The 4.5% gap is equal to 350 million tonnes of CO2, worldwide, per year – which is slightly more than Spain emits every year. The standard could mark a turning point for efforts to regulate fast-growing CO2 emissions from aircraft, which are not covered by December’s much-hailed Paris climate agreement. The standard would only apply to planes produced after 2020, meaning the planes currently being used – or ordered now – would not be included. Both the US and the EU proposals are going to ICAO, for consideration, next month. ICAO is looking at two approaches to reducing the rate of increase of aviation emissions; a market-based mechanism – MBM – (meaning trading, so airlines have to pay for their CO2); and improving the fuel efficiency of engines and aircraft. ICAO will be working on these this year, with the full council meeting in September, for a possible approval of an MBM in 2017.
The exclusion of international aviation & shipping CO2 from Paris COP21 deal makes 2°C limit close to impossible
The Paris climate agreement text has now dropped mention of international aviation and shipping. The weak statement that has been removed only said that parties might “pursue the limitation or reduction of greenhouse gas emissions” through ICAO “with a view to agreeing concrete measures addressing these emissions, including developing procedures for incorporating emissions from international aviation and marine bunker fuels into low-emission development strategies.” Even that has gone, so there is no ambition for CO2 regulation. Transport & Environment (T&E) says this has fatally undermined the prospects of keeping global warming below 2°C. The CO2 emissions of these two sectors amount to about 8% of emissions globally. In recent years their emissions have grown twice as fast as the those of the global economy – an 80% rise in CO2 output from aviation and shipping between 1990 and 2010, versus 40% growth in CO2 emissions from global economic activity – and they are projected to grow by up to 270% in 2050. They could be 39% of global CO2 emissions by 2050 if left unregulated. After 18 years of being supposed to come up with measures to tackle aviation emissions, ICAO has done almost nothing – and little is expected of it.
“The Elephants in the Room” at the Paris talks: international aviation & shipping
Transport & Environment (T&E), a Brussels NGO, is calling on countries participating in COP21 to insist that the UN organisations responsible for international aviation and shipping set realistic reduction targets consistent with 2°C objective and adopt measures to implement them. Though these two sectors are crucial to our global economy, they must grow in a way that does not come at the expense of the planet. Aviation is responsible for almost 5% of all global warming and its emissions are predicted to grow by up to 300% in 2050. Such a growth rate would make the target of keeping the global temperature increase to under 2°C almost impossible to achieve. Further ambition is required, including cooperation between the UNFCCC and the ICAO. T&E have put together a briefing debunking the myths about the carbon emissions of aviation (and of shipping). Well worth reading. The industry claims that “aviation accounts for 2% of global emissions”; it claims “aviation is delivering increased efficiency gains”; that “thousands of flights already with alternative fuel, more expected”. It claims the industry “has a target of Carbon Neutral Growth from 2020”; and that it should not be a source of climate finance. Each in turn refuted by T&E.
17 NGOs write to European Commission to get them to push for inclusion of aviation and shipping in Paris agreement
In response to the announcement that the carbon emissions international aviation and shipping are to be left off the draft Paris agreement, 17 European NGOs and environmental networks have written to the Arias Cañete (Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy in the European Commission) and EU-28 Climate Ministers. They say the omission of these two large sectors, with their combined huge carbon emissions, would – if sustained – greatly undermine efforts to limit a global temperature increase to 1.5/2 degrees. Aviation is responsible for 5% of global warming with shipping emitting 3% of global CO2, and their carbon emissions are set to grow by up to 250% by 2050. The group of 17 say they represent millions of concerned European citizens. They ask that the Commission ensures these two sectors are covered by the Paris Agreement, so that they make a fair contribution to the world’s shared objective of a sustainable, low-carbon future. The letter states: “What the world needs from Paris is an agreement which charts our path to a low-carbon future. What we must not get is an agreement which says ambition for some, exemptions for others. Paris cannot mean these sectors are fuel-tax and now emissions-target free.”
Paris could leave aviation and shipping fuel tax-free and climate target-free
The international aviation and shipping sectors are set to be exempt from targeted CO2 emissions cuts in the December Paris climate agreement, according to the latest draft deal. The final deal needs to be agreed in the coming weeks. The draft deal removes previous calls for aviation and shipping CO2 reduction targets, with neither sector covered by national targets. Environmental NGOs say this is an irresponsible U-turn. Aviation is responsible for 5% of global warming with shipping emitting 3% of global CO2, and their carbon emissions are set to grow by up to 250% by 2050, making attempts to limit global warming to 2°C all but impossible. The IMO has said an overall cap on shipping emissions “would inhibit world trade.” Proposals from the least developed countries, that shipping and aviation should contribute to climate finance were also dropped in the draft, despite strong calls for them from the IMF and World Bank.Though the climate impact of global aviation is about the same as that of Germany, the sector has tax-free fuel and it is now to have target-free emissions. Bill Hemmings, of T&E said: “It’s a betrayal of future generations and a sad reflection on the way the UN has become beholden to special interests. Paris needs to think again and quickly.”
Airlines write to UN Secretary General to say they want governments to set up offsetting for their carbon growth
Airbus, Boeing and Rolls-Royce are among 28 signatories to open letter to the Secretary General of the UN, stressing the need for a carbon market to curb aviation CO2. They say they are committed to curbing the aviation sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, ahead of a Paris climate deal this December. Their letter says they will not increase net (Note: net not gross) CO2 emissions from aviation after 2020 and halve them compared to 2005 by 2050. These cuts would in practice not be made by actually reducing the amount of CO2 aviation emits, but by buying credits from other sectors that actually reduce their carbon. To do this, they need to agree a carbon market at the 2016 summit of UN aviation authority, ICAO. The design of a “market mechanism” (system of trading carbon) to offset emissions by investing in low carbon development projects is behind schedule. The aviation industry is keen to be seen to be doing something, though internal divisions within ICAO mean agreeing anything that would actually be effective in limiting the sector’s carbon emissions. They still hope to be able to cut emissions by a few % by use of biofuels, though this is not looking promising. Though the letter is a start, global aviation needs much more ambition, and it cannot rely on offsets indefinitely. See critique of offsetting for carbon cuts.
European Parliament urges EU governments to include aviation and shipping in a strong Paris climate deal
The Environment Ministers of the 28 European member states will be meeting on 18 September to finalise the EU position for COP21, to be held in Paris at the end of November. The heads of 7 of the 8 political groups of the European Parliament’s environment committee have written to the EU Environment Ministers urging them to include international shipping and aviation in a global climate deal at Paris. They said: “To promote increased climate ambition from ICAO and IMO, like all the other sectors of the global economy, aviation and international shipping require an emissions reduction target. There is no reasonable excuse to continue exempting these two economy sectors from the global policy framework. Aviation and shipping need to contribute in the same way that is required of all UNFCCC Parties, large and small.” The group, T&E commented that: “It’s simply fair to demand from two economic sectors with emissions the size of Germany and South Korea – about 8% of world CO2 – to reduce their emissions in line with keeping the global temperature increase below 2 degrees C. The IMO and ICAO have been procrastinating so far. The time for action has come.”. The CO2 emissions from global aviation are expected to grow by 200 – 300% by 2050.
New study by ICCT show new plane fuel efficiency gains are more than a decade late for UN ICAO goal
The European group, T&E, say that since 2010, the average fuel burn of new aircraft has improved by 1.1% per year, which suggests that aircraft manufacturers may miss UN aviation body ICAO’s 2020 fuel efficiency goals by 12 years. This has been show by a new study by the ICCT. IATA forecasts 4.1% annual growth of global aviation for the next 20 years. By contrast, the 1.1% progress in fuel efficiency of new commercial jets falls way behind the progress needed to meet ICAO’s targets. The gap between 4.1% growth and 1.1% improvement is massive. Since 2009 ICAO has been working on a CO2 standard for new aircraft to boost fuel efficiency technology in the fleet. Work should be completed in 2016, with the standard for new commercial jets taking effect in 2020. Decisions on the actual stringency of the standard are due over the next months. T&E said: “ICAO must help airlines meet their own climate goals and agree a CO2 standard that actually forces new technology in the fleet, rather than doing business as usual….. It’s a no brainer for ICAO to agree a global market-based measure that drives fuel prices up steadily over time.” More progress in fuel efficiency strongly correlates with higher fuel prices. Aviation’s massive CO2 emissions are projected to triple by 2050.
Tom Burke article exposes the fallacy of hoping carbon pricing will lower CO2 emissions
The aviation industry is reluctantly realising it needs to cut its carbon emissions, and work is under way, through ICAO, on a “market based measure” by which the industry could pay for carbon emissions. This, like the EU ETS, would be by being able to buy carbon permits from other sectors which had managed to make actual carbon cuts. A hard-hitting article from Tom Burke casts serious doubt on whether this sort of carbon pricing and trading could ever work effectively. He fears many high carbon industries pay lip-service to the concept, in the full knowledge that it will never work sufficiently well to curtail their activities, and it delays the need for any real action. He says: “The intent is to create the impression of an industry in favour of urgent action whilst actually slowing that action down”…. [with the carbon price remaining too low] … “If only governments were brave enough to put the carbon price up higher and faster, they will lament, we would get there sooner. This is hocus-pocus. They know full well governments will be deeply reluctant to put up consumers’ bills.” … “There is no chance that the world will agree on a global price for carbon in the forty years we have to keep the climate safe…. Their purpose is clear, to set a trap for unwary policy makers and environmentalists. Shame on those who fall into it.”
UN shipping body – the IMO – shelves target for the sector’s CO2 emissions till “a future date”
The carbon emissions from global international shipping are around the same size as those from international aviation (but without the additional non-CO2 impacts of emissions at altitude). They are each responsible for about 2 to 3% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Shipping has a carbon footprint equivalent to Germany or Japan. Both sectors are left out of the carbon inventories of countries, as means to include them have not been agreed. Both sectors have been very slow to reach any agreement to cut CO2. Now at recent talks, the body given the task of working on emissions, the IMP (International Maritime Organisation) has said it will not offer a emissions reduction target towards a global climate deal in Paris this December. Delegates agreed only to address “at an appropriate future date” a proposal from the Marshall Islands to curb greenhouse gases in the sector. Under business as usual, the IMO’s own research shows shipping emissions are set to rise 50-250% by 2050, as a growing population boosts demand. With countries targeting emissions cuts, shipping’s share of the emissions space will grow even faster – up to 14% (compared to 2 – 3% now). Aviation is also expected to grow in a similar manner, unless the ICAO finds a mechanism to cut this.
NGOs from across Europe send open letter to EU ministers, asking for proper action on aviation CO2
The inclusion of international flights into the EU’s carbon market (the EU ETS) was one factor that created momentum for a global, rather than regional, measure to address aviation emissions. Recognizing Europe’s potential importance in trying to get progress in the ICAO negotiations towards a global MBM (market based measure), open letters from 15 NGOs across Europe have been sent to EU’s transport and environment/climate ministers. The letters ask them to do more in getting aviation CO2 emissions cuts. ICAO is aiming to adopt a global MBM to address some of the rapidly-rising emissions from global aviation,at its 2016 meeting. In theory, if ICAO does not come up with a sufficiently effective MBM, the EU will be asked to bring back its ETS measure. But with just one year till the scheduled adoption, the EU is punching below its weight at the negotiations, and there are concerns the ICAO’e level of ambition on CO2 is far too low. The NGO letters say that to keep aviation CO2 emissions down, the subsidies that European aviation enjoys, including tax-free status of fuel and no VAT, subsidies to non-viable regional airports and legalising operating aid to airlines, need to be cut.
Germany fines aircraft operators €5.36 million as it publishes first Aviation EU ETS non-compliance list
GreenAir online reports that Germany has become the first EU country to publish a list of aircraft operators that have not complied with the EU ETS for emissions in 2012. Other countries have not published lists, but the number not complying is thought to be quite high. According to the German Emissions Trading Authority (DEHSt), fines totalling €5,363,400 have been levied on the 44 operators named. Most are small aircraft operators. Under Article 16 of the EU directive that brought aviation into the EU ETS, EU member states must publish the names of aircraft operators they administer that are in breach of requirements to surrender sufficient allowances to cover their emissions. For 2012, the allowances were required to be submitted by the end of April 2013 but nearly two years on, an unspecified number of airlines and smaller aircraft operators remain non-compliant. The penalties are €100 for each tonne of CO2 emitted for which the aircraft operator has not surrendered allowances. It is clear that there is a reluctance by states to publish publicly-available lists of non-compliant airlines, particularly those from outside Europe. This is likely to be due to “political sensitivities” as discussions continue at an international level to agree a global market-based measure for aviation CO2.
UN climate negotiations need to get agreed emissions targets for international aviation and shipping
Bill Hemmings, of Transport & Environment, writing in Euractiv after the recent UNFCCC talks, says the relevant UN bodies should identify an emission reduction pathway, and ensure that any measures adopted are done so in a fair and equitable way. The UNFCCC negotiating text now includes wording calling for the setting of emission reduction targets for international shipping and aviation, in the context of the objective of the agreement – which is to limit any temperature increase to 2 degrees. There will be more dialogue between parties on why this wording should be included in the Paris Agreement at COP 21. In a “business-as-usual” scenario, CO2 emissions from shipping could increase by up to 250% and from aviation by 270% by 2050. These would account for one-quarter of all allowable emissions under a 2-degree scenario in 2050 and one-third under a 1.5-degree scenario. Despite this reality, the IMO and ICAO have a long record of inaction. ICAO says it will agree by 2016 the details of a measure to deliver carbon neutral growth in 2020, but even that is uncertain and it will depend heavily on the quality of offsets used. However, in any case “carbon neutral growth” by the aviation industry globally will be insufficient to meet a 2-degree scenario.
Talks in Geneva target a carbon emissions cap on international aviation and shipping
Work is progressing on text for the climate talks in Paris in December. In Geneva work has started, with representatives from over 190 countries, on negotiating texts on how there could be caps on carbon emissions from international aviation and shipping. The EU has been supportive of this sort of cap, having been the first to have an Emissions Trading System including aviation, till the ETS was scuppered last year. Brussels eventually had to cut the range of the ETS to only include flights within the EU, after trade threats from the USA, China and others. Air travel is one of the fastest growing sources of CO2, and the Paris negotiating text might encourage the global aviation industry to levy funds to be used to help poor countries adapt to climate change. However, any measures to limit aviation CO2 emissions are expected to be opposed by many countries. Including shipping and aviation emissions in a global climate deal has proved difficult in the past. If emissions from these sectors are not addressed effectively by 2050, bunker emissions could swell to account for a quarter of all emissions. ICAO is working on a proposal for some form of market based measure on carbon, due to be considered in 2016. Bill Hemmings, of T&E, said: “ICAO has promised action by 2016 but operates in complete secrecy.”
Russian airline, Aeroflot, to challenge fines for non-payment of EU ETS charges for 2012
The European Emissions Trading System charged airlines, during 2012, for their emissions while flying into or from European airports, in EU airspace. For non EU countries, a European country administered the payments. The payments from Russian airlines are administered by Germany. Three Russian airlines paid in full for their emissions. However, Aeroflot did not. Now Germany has confirmed that Aeroflot is being fined for its non-payment. Aeroflot has sent a “protest” letter to the European Parliament and is preparing to lodge an appeal at being asked to pay a €215,600 fine. Aeroflot says: “In response to the IATA recommendations and like other air companies, Aeroflot has prepared a protest letter to the European Parliament” …and they are “preparing to file an appeal on the unacceptability of issuing fines against the air company.” The payments are only for 2012, before “stop the clock” brought an end to payments. The compromise deal agreed by the European Parliament in early April 2014 means that, until 2017, only flights between EU airports will be regulated, not flights to or from the EU.
Scope of coverage of aviation by EU Emissions Trading System now slashed by 75% until 2017
May 1, 2014
The compromise deal agreed by the European Parliament in early April means that, until 2017, only flights between EU airports will be regulated, not flights to or from the EU. So the result is that this only covers about 25% of the total EU aviation carbon emissions. About 75% of the total emissions, which were covered in the first year of the ETS, are now not covered – and will not be for years. The inclusion of aviation in the ETS, agreed in 2008, covered emissions from all flights to, from and within Europe and entered force in 2012. However, an interim one-year freeze of the law, known as ‘stop the clock’, was hurriedly agreed in late 2012 to allow time for the UN’s aviation body, ICAO, to agree a global measure to reduce aviation emissions at its 2013 triennial assembly. The EU decision included a provision that if ICAO fails to agree a global measure by 2017, the original ETS, with full coverage, will ‘snapback’ then. Bill Hemmings, sustainable aviation manager at T&E commented :”Just when the IPCC’s latest report shows how climate change is already affecting every aspect of human life, European governments and politicians have chosen to effectively scrap the only law in the world that attempts to curb aviation’s soaring emissions.”
European Parliament votes to continue with partial inclusion of aviation in weakened ETS – for intra-EU flights only till at least 2016
April 3, 2014
The European Parliament voted on 3rd April to alter the ETS so that, instead of airlines being charged for all the carbon of flights into and out of the EU, the scheme will only cover carbon emissions for intra-EU flights. This is the “Stop the Clock” (STC) deal, which started in 2013. It means charges for CO2 emissions will be made for flights by European airlines, and for the very few by non-EU airlines between European airports. This severe weakening of the ETS has been caused by relentless pressure from foreign powers (USA, China, India and Russia as the main opponents), and means the ETS will only cover a small fraction of total aviation carbon emissions associated with flights to and from all European countries. The vote on 3rd reverses the position taken by the European Parliament’s environment committee last month, when it rejected the change to intra-EU flights only, and very narrowly voted on a compromise that would have required non-EU flights to still pay for their CO2 emissions within EU airspace. The “Stop the Clock” weak version of the ETS will now run until the end of 2016 and the agreement allows for a return to the original full scope of the scheme from 2017 should an agreement at ICAO to implement a global market-based mechanism from 2020 not be reached at its Assembly in 2016.
China’s trade war threats over aviation emissions “not serious”, MEPs say
Date added: April 2, 2014
The European Parliament is expected to give its final say to the highly disputed issue of aviation’s inclusion in the ETS on 3rd April. The Chinese president is ending a trip to Europe, during which a 10 year deal was agreed between Airbus and China that planes could be assembled in China till 2025. This is seen as an argument for MEPs in favour of a stronger European stance on carbon emissions trading in the aviation sector. MPs against the European Parliament giving in to pressure from other countries to weaken its ETS said that the Airbus/China deal showed that the threats of a trade war if the EU did not give in were not as serious as had been made out. The deal, according to one MEP “will make my position even easier to defend ….we should not bend to economic blackmail” which is what the Chinese have been doing. Another said the EU should “… stick to our principles and stop this incessant wavering whenever the slightest signs of trouble appear, then we’d be much better positioned to achieve real progress on the international stage.”
EU Parliament ENVI committee narrowly votes against compromise of extending ETS “Stop the Clock” to 2016
March 19, 2014
The European Parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI) has very narrowly voted to reject a deal to exempt long-haul flights (those into and out of Europe) from paying for their carbon emissions until the end of 2016 – the so-called “stop the clock” measure. This is intended to prevent the EU from bowing to international pressure from the USA, China, India etc. Currently only intra-EU flights are included, (no long haul) so the only aviation carbon that is being paid for is from these flights. The aviation ETS is the only international climate measure in place today that tackles aviation’s soaring CO2 emissions. The compromise of an extension to 2016 would effectively have dismantled the ETS, and was not the best way forward. The vote was a clear signal to political leaders in member states, industry and foreign countries that the EU’s sovereignty is not to be undermined by external bullying, and threats of trade sanctions. The next stage is for a vote in the full Parliament on 3rd April. If the Parliament agrees to reject the compromise, then the existing law would automatically apply, requiring all flights using EU airports to pay for all their emissions.
EU compromise on inclusion of long haul flights in the ETS faces opposition – vote on 19th March
March 15, 2014
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.
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…
More problems for aviation in the EU ETS as France and Germany will not enforce sanctions for non- compliance
January 24, 2014
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. Click here to view full story…
Analysis shows 84m tonnes of aviation CO2 covered by EU ETS in 2012 as cargo airlines reap windfalls
January 12, 2014
According an analysis by the organisation “Sandbag”, over 1,169 participating airlines and aircraft operators reported between them a total of 84 million tonnes of CO2 emissions for the first year of aviation’s inclusion in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). Around 89% of eligible operators fully complied with the scheme, representing 98% of intra-EU aviation emissions. 42% of all emissions coming from just 10 EU airlines. Although the one-year ‘Stop the Clock’ (STC) derogation – which started in November 2012 – allowed operators to opt out of having to surrender allowances for extra-EU international flights, a number of major air cargo carriers based inside and outside the EU chose to comply with the full scope of the scheme, enabling them to end 2012 with a windfall, says Sandbag. Also, though the majority of operators have incurred a cost as a result of their inclusion in the EU ETS, Sandbag estimates that Europe’s biggest emitter, Ryanair, stood to reap a windfall in 2012 of around €8 million through its passenger EU ETS levy. Of the 11 million offsets were surrendered, it is estimated that 5.6 million, were to CDM (Clean Development Projects) in China, while the remaining 5.3 million originated from Russia JI (joint implementation) projects – countries implacably opposed to the Aviation EU ETS. Click here to view full story…
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…
India and the USA oppose EU plan to include flights within European airspace in ETS
October 23, 2013 India has said it will oppose the EU’s plan to include flights from all airlines in European airspace (other than airlines from most developing countries). The USA also opposes the plan, with a US politician saying the EU proposal is contrary to a law intended to shield US airlines from such charges. Last week the European Commission proposed making all airlines pay for emissions only over European airspace – rather than the original system in which the carbon from the full length of all flights using EU airports. USA, India and China want the EU to back down, so no aviation emissions anywhere are included in a charging system. India and China contribute well over 1% of global aviation CO2, so they were included, unlike smaller and poor countries. Reuters says that along with China, India has defied the EU, even refusing to submit emissions data before the EU suspended it for a year amid threats of a trade war. The US might go as far as invoking a law signed by President Barack Obama in November 2012 that would shield Us airlines from what US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx may deem to be an unfair charge. Click here to view full story…
European Commission proposes applying EU ETS only to European regional airspace from 1 January 2014
October 16, 2013
The European Commission has proposed amending the ETS so that aviation emissions would be covered just for the part of flights that takes place in European regional airspace (including over the North Sea or Mediterranean). The adjustment in the legislation would apply from 1 January 2014 and until a planned global market-based mechanism (MBM) becomes applicable to international aviation emissions by 2020, according to ICAO. European Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, said “Europe is taking the responsibility to reduce emissions within its own airspace until the global measure begins’. Also that the aviation sector, like other sectors, has to contribute to cuts in EU carbon emissions, as aviation emission are increasing fast – doubling since 1990. The proposal needs to be agreed by the European Parliament and the Counci, before April 2014. The proposal covers all CO2 emissions from flights between airports in the European Economic Area (EEA), including Norway and Iceland. Parts of flights outside the EEA are not covered, and flights of developing countries – of which their aviation emissions are less than 1% of the global whole – are not included. Click here to view full story…
Grey day for environment as Europe reduces its aviation ETS coverage to only European airspace
October 16, 2013 The European Commission has, under intense international pressure, proposed to reduce its ETS for aviation to only cover flights in European airspace. The proposal would only cover 35% of aviation emissions compared to the original aviation EU ETS. It would cover flights by all airlines, except from less developed countries, which contribute 1% or less of global aviation CO2. Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at Transport & Environment, said: “It is disgraceful that foreign and industry pressure has obliged Europe to shrink its own aviation emissions law to the bare minimum.” The EC’s text comes shortly after the conclusion of the ICAO triennial assembly, where delegates, in a political decision, finally agreed to talk about the details of a global market based measure for 2020 but rejected interim measures like the EU ETS. The current proposal would leave the vast bulk of EU aviation emissions – which come from long-haul flights – unregulated. T&E urges the European Parliament and Member States to include an option to extend the aviation emissions coverage of the ETS to a 50/50 basis in 2017. Click here to view full story…
WWF: ICAO forgoes immediate emissions reductions for only promise of a future global plan
October 4, 2013 .In their response ot the disappointing outcome of the ICAO negotiations on curbing global aviation emissions, WWF said ICAO had missed the opportunity to start reducing emissions immediately. They have only committed to possibly agree an MBM in 2016, to come into effect in 2020. There is no guarantee they will agree it. This means little will be done before 2020. WWF said the science is clearer than ever – and 2020 is too late. Jean Leston, Transport Policy Officer of WWF-UK, said: “The world has waited 16 years for ICAO to demonstrate its serious commitment to reducing aviation emissions. What we got today seems a very small return for that effort. We expect a lot more ambition and commitment from ICAO over the next three years if a global, market-based mechanism is ever going to materialize. …..By essentially restricting the EU’s ETS for aviation to its own carriers and airspace, ICAO has handicapped the world’s leading legislation to put a price on aviation pollution and once again allowed skyrocketing emissions to continue climbing.” With the IPCC saying we need to cut CO2, leaders need to be taking every opportunity to do so. Click here to view full story…
EU Emissions Trading System reduced to only intra-European flights
October 4, 2013 .The EU was defeated in its efforts to have ICAO recognise its right to continue charging aviation in its own market-based mechanism, the ETS. Earlier this month the EU offered to exclude emissions emitted outside EU airspace from being covered by the ETS in exchange for a deal at ICAO. Even this did not happen. “ICAO is going even beyond what the Chicago Convention allows,” said Bill Hemmings of campaign group T&E. “They’re telling the EU what it can do in its own airspace.” A spokesperson for the Commission said the EU would have to consider its next steps. Any change to the ETS scope, whether to exclude non-EU airspace or to go further and exclude all foreign airlines, would need approval from member states and the European Parliament. The European aviation industry would be likely to fiercely resist any move to exclude foreign airlines but leave them included, as it would raise competitiveness concerns. Green MEPs reacted with dismay to the ICAO outcome. “The international aviation organisation (ICAO) is both seeking to block EU action and once more stalling on urgently-needed international measures” Click here to view full story…
Weak ICAO aviation emissions deal with action delayed till at least 2016 strikes harsh blow to EU ETS
October 4, 2013 .The ICAO talks in Montreal are now closed. ICAO cobbled together a weak resolution, that lays the foundation for a Market Based Measure (MBM) perhaps some time in future. This is to be brought to the next ICAO Assembly in 2016. ie more years of delay. The resolution states that, if an agreement on a global MBM is decided upon at the next Assembly, it must be implemented by 2020 – the year after which any growth within the industry must be carbon neutral. Jean Leston, Transport Policy Manager at WWF-UK, said: “There is nothing in this resolution that guarantees an MBM. All we’ve got is a decision to develop one over the next 3 years and then that has to go to Assembly for agreement in 2016.” Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at Transport & Environment, said, “The EU put its faith in the ICAO process, and because of unacceptable weakening and delay, this faith has now been shattered.” The ICAO agreement has also decimated the EU’s ETS, which has been reduced to the bare minimum. The EU can now only impose its ETS on flights that both depart and land from within its own airspace. For aircraft emissions emitted in EU airspace by planes that have come from outside the EU, this can only be done with the consent of the other country. Click here to view full story…
Concern at ICAO talks that Britain, France and Germany are prepared to water down EU’s position on aviation emissions
October 2, 2013 . As the climate talks in Montreal drag on, with a draft text expected this Friday or Saturday, it appears there could be an impact of some of the US negotiators having to fly home – as being government employees, their offices have been closed down due to lack of funding. The US has been one of the biggest obstacles to finding an agreement, so the absence of some may have a positive impact. A very weak draft deal presented this week has been described as a “dream come true” for airlines. It will not allow the EU to cover overflights – flights that do not land or take off from somewhere in the EU – without mutual agreement. This would mean the ETS could only cover sovereign airspace and not regional airspace as previously announced. It appears that the UK, France and Germany are prepared to water down the EU’s position as a way to strike a global deal, afraid of a trade war. There is concern that this would damage the whole ETS and not be agreed by the European Parliament. Click here to view full story…
Carbon neutral goal for aviation won’t neutralise its climate impact – it needs Market Based Measures too
October 1, 2013 .A report from the Manchester Metropolitan University shows that the emissions from global aviation will continue to have a climate impact for years and decades after they are emitted. CO2 stays in the atmosphere for a long time, and continues its warming impact. For this reason, the proposal of the aviation industry to go for “carbon neutral growth” after 2020 will have the effect of increasing the climate impact of aviation. “Carbon neutral growth” in the way the industry sees it, by use of reductions in CO2 emissions from technical, operational and biofuels measures, will not keep emissions and their climate impact low enough. For there to be real “carbon neutral growth”, so argue Transport & Environment in Brussels, and the Aviation Environment Federation in the UK, requires an effective market based measure MBM) as well. The MMU report concludes that to mitigate aviation’s climate warming impact in 2050 through carbon neutral growth in 2020 will require a basket of measures, including MBMs, (such as the EU ETS) to bridge the gap between what can be achieved by the industry and ICAO’s proposed measures, and what is actually needed. .Click here to view full story…
Deal time in Montreal – the 50/50 basis solution for the ETS ?
September 25, 2013 .It is deal time in Montreal. Over the next two weeks 191 countries will decide what to do about climate-warming emissions. If aviation were a country, it would be the 7th largest emitter in the world, based on CO2 alone. And aviation emissions are set to triple by 2050, so this is no small task. Aoife O’Leary, who is Sustainable Shipping & Aviation Officer, for Transport & Environment in Brussels, writing in the Huffington Post, says of the current position on the EU ETS, that the recent offer by the EU to only regulate aviation emissions in EU airspace would mean 60% less intercontinental emissions than were covered by the original law. Even if every country regulated aviation emissions in its own airspace, that would still mean 78% of global emissions would still not be included, with flights over international waters and third countries uncovered. Aoife says a far more sensible and politically viable solution would have been to revise the ETS on the basis of a 50/50 system, which means each country regulates half the carbon of each international flight.That means countries such as the US that do not want to be regulated do not need to include emissions in their airspace but the EU continues to exercise its sovereignty over flights landing at its airports. Click here to view full story…
Environmental NGOs call for ICAO to bring forward global MBM adoption to 2015 for implementation in 2016
September 24, 2013 .The ICAO draft resolution to be considered by the 38th Assembly later this week appears equivocal on whether to adopt a global market-based measure (MBM), leaving it to the 39th Assembly in 2016 to make a decision. However, environmental NGOs say that evidence shows early action must be taken to ensure the climate impact from rapidly increasing aviation emissions is minimised. In a submission to the Assembly by their representative body, the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA), they call for ICAO member states to agree now to develop a global MBM for adoption in 2015 and implementation in 2016. This would be 4 years earlier than the aviation industry is calling for under its “carbon-neutral growth” target (CNG2020). This would require the holding of an Extraordinary General Assembly in 2015, which although not unprecedented would be highly unusual. The NGOs are convinced, and backed by recent research, that a global MBM is the only feasible way to get meaningful CO2 reductions. Click here to view full story…
Emissions Trading Will Dominate ICAO Assembly
September 20, 2013 .A long and comprehensive piece in Aviation Week, discusses the likely outcomes from the ICAO Assemby, on the issue of aviation carbon emissions. The most likely scheme to be agreed in the next two weeks is for aircraft emissions during the part of the flight in EU airspace (including Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) to be taxed. There are some technical challenges in implementing it. It would not include overflights. Whether ICAO’s 191 contracting states will support the deal at the Assembly is not known, but according to one commentator: “it seems unlikely that delegates will wish to reopen substantive debate on such a hard-won consensus text.” However there are concerns about the impact of this tax on European airlines. The Federal Association of German Aviation and Space Industry, of which Lufthansa is a founding member, objects to the compromise, claiming it represents “a massive distortion of competition for European airlines.” The European Low Fares Airline Association also says it is discriminatory. An effective market based measure agreed globally still seems a very long way from agreement. . Click here to view full story…
An NGO message for the ICAO Assembly: Introduce a global market-based measure now
September 18, 2013 .The Assembly of ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organisation) takes place in Montreal between 24th September and 4th October. A decision on how to deal with global aviation emissions needs to be taken – if aviation globally was a country, it would rank 7th highest, after Germany. It is widely acknowledged that a market based measure (MBM) would be the most effective mechanism through which to do this. James Lees, from the Aviation Environment Federation, and Bill Hemmings, from Transport & Environment, writing in GreenAir online, say the solution to aviation’s runaway emissions is a “global MBM decided on now and to be introduced by 2016. It is no longer an option for continued disagreement in ICAO to prevent action on aviation’s contribution to climate change. At a time when President Obama has said so much about leading the way [on climate], the White House must finally ensure that the US becomes the global leader for action at the ICAO Assembly. It is time for everybody to take responsibility, stop shielding such a high emitting industry and act….now.” .Click here to view full story…
EU agrees to deal on watered-down version of ETS for emissions only in EU airspace – with more ICAO delay on any global measure
September 6, 2013 The EU has agreed to a deal to scale back its inclusion of aviation in the ETS as UN negotiators at ICAO agreed at talks in Montreal to only include emissions from flights over European airspace. This is a substantial scaling down of the initial plan to include all flights to and from Europe. The ICAO deal, which still needs to be signed off by a full meeting ending October 4th and by EU lawmakers, was immediately criticised by green groups. ICAO will delay implementing any more effective mechanism for another 7 years. The deal falls short of the worldwide pact the EU had hoped for in November 2012 when it exempted foreign flights for one year (“stopping the clock”) to give ICAO more time to develop a global deal. At present airlines need only surrender carbon permits for flights within the EU, so requiring permits for the miles in European airspace is a slight improvement. However, it means that for a long haul flight to or from the EU, most of the carbon is not included in the ETS. Peter Liese, a senior member of the EU Parliament, said “It is far from an ideal solution… (but) I’m really concerned that if we just oppose what is on the table then we may see a total collapse of our effort.” Click here to view full story…
Aviation industry unlikely to agree emissions reduction deal through ICAO until 2016
August 30, 2013 A global deal to reduce emissions from the aviation industry is looking increasingly unlikely to be agreed at the ICAO international negotiations taking place next week in Montreal. The text is still in its draft stage, and will be debated by the ICAO Council on the 4 September before being presented to the General Assembly on the 24th. It proposes that states should work towards the development of a market based mechanism (MBM) to reduce emissions. But in a move branded by NGOs as “disappointing” and promising little except more talk and delay, it states that no decision will be taken until the 39th General Assembly in 2016 – one year after countries are set to cement a binding UN climate agreement in Paris. The document requests the ICAO Council to “make a recommendation on a global MBM scheme that addresses key design elements … and the mechanisms for the implementation of the scheme from 2020.” There has been little action to reduce the aviation sector’s growing greenhouse gas emissions since ICAO was assigned the task under the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. This additional delay is likely to be seen as another victory for the airline industry. Click here to view full story…
Report by CATE shows immediate global action needed to reduce aviation climate impact
August 29, 2013 A new scientific report produced by CATE (Manchester Metropolitan University’s Centre for Air Transport and Environment) called “Mitigating future aviation CO2 emissions – timing is everything” shows that the real climate benefit of any action to cut aviation’s carbon emissions depends on the cumulative emission reductions between now and a future date, and not just on achieving a certain amount of emission reductions by a specific year (as ICAO has focused on). This is because CO2 has a long lifetime so concentration levels are determined by cumulative emissions over time. Early reductions result in a lower emissions trajectory than equivalent annual savings made at a later date. This highlights the critical importance of ICAO taking early action to cut emissions quickly, and increases the pressure on ICAO not to defer a decision on the adoption of a market-based measure (MBM). The report finds that biofuels are not effective as a solution to the aviation emissions problem, but that improvements in technology and operational improvements offered the second best mitigation potential as a single measure. Click here to view full story…
Report finds net cost to the aviation sector of achieving carbon-neutral growth from 2020 will be trivial
August 5, 2013 A new report has found that meeting the aviation industry’s “carbon-neutral growth” target from 2020 could add as little as $1.50 to $2 to the price of a transatlantic one-way ticket in 2030. Aviation intends to make its growth “carbon neutral” buy buying carbon offsets from other sectors, rather than making actual cuts in the sector’s own CO2 emissions. The report is by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF – Guy Turner, Chief Economist) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF – Annie Petsonk, International Counsel). Their analysis shows that surplus offset credits already available in the world’s carbon trading systems could, in principle, meet just under 50% of the industry’s potential need for the 2020 to 2050 period. The cost of carbon credits to the aviation industry would represent less than 0.5% of international aviation revenue, or roughly 25% to 33% of what airlines bring in from ancillary revenues such as checked bags and selling snacks. Under a moderate scenario for aviation growth, the amount of carbon credits needed range is 8 to 14 billion tonnes, over the period 2020 – 2050. Click here to view full story…
Barack Obama urged to help advance stalled ICAO negotiations on aviation CO2 agreement
July 19, 2013 Peter Liese, a key member of the European Parliament from Germany, who has led Europe’s efforts to curb aviation CO2 emissions, has urged Barack Obama to live up to his sweeping promises to act on climate change, and help advance stalled negotiations for a global aviation deal. He said Obama must act fast to avoid a trade war over the battle caused by the EU ETS (Emissions Trading System) . Liese, speaking after meetings with administration officials in Washington this week, said he feared efforts to reach a global deal on aviation carbon had stalled. He thought there was a 50% chance that the ICAO talks would fail to produce a deal by its early September meetings, triggering a transatlantic trade and diplomatic crisis. “For me and I think for the European parliament this is a test case: how serious is Obama on climate change? Is it only a speech, or is it serious? ” Liese said. He said he was disappointed with the state department’s position in the aviation talks, saying it lagged behind Obama’s sweeping climate change speech last month. Click here to view full story…
WWF & CAN: European Parliament compromises on ETS reform but it’s not enough to save the climate
July 3, 2013 The European Parliament has approved plans (by 344 to 311 votes) designed to boost the EU’s ETS and drive green investment by tackling the glut of carbon allowances that have caused a huge fall in the price of CO2 this year. MEPs have voted in favour of “backloading” proposals so the EC can temporarily postpone the auction of 900 million allowances. In April stricter backloading plans were narrowly rejected. Bloomberg reported that the price of carbon allowances for delivery in December rose 7.2% to €4.60 per tonne. The deal gives assurances that the backloading won’t be repeated and it won’t lead to the permanent withdrawal of the delayed carbon allowances. WWF said that with carbon prices already at all-time lows, EU Member States now need to put the right price on pollution by strengthening today’s result and say: “Member states should back further measures to eliminate these toxic tonnes permanently from the EU’s carbon market.” CAN Europe and WWF call on EU policy makers to come up with robust proposals to increase EU climate action. Click here to view full story…
Obama: US working at ICAO towards comprehensive global approach on limiting international aviation emissions
June 26, 2013 In a wide-ranging major speech on climate change President Obama launched an action plan that made reference to the role the United States is playing at the ICAO. Obama’s Climate Action Plan states that: …”at the International Civil Aviation Organization, we have ambitious aspirational emissions and energy efficiency targets and are working towards agreement to develop a comprehensive global approach.” GreenAir online reports that with important negotiations taking place at the UNFCCC on agreeing a global climate treaty by 2015 to be enforced from 2020 to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the outcome at ICAO is being viewed by many as a barometer of how close nations are to finding common ground, with US leadership playing a vital role. Progress on aviation is important not only because of the carbon emissions from the industry, but as it represents an area where the international community could make headway in the near term. An agreement in ICAO at its meeting in September would give a valuable boost to international efforts more broadly, by showing that agreement in multilateral forums is possible. Click here to view full story…
G8 Summit admits “grave concern” over slow progress of climate change action (want ICAO agreement at September meeting)
June 19, 2013 Leaders at the G8 Summit reiterated their commitment to delivering action to tackle climate change, acknowledging they have “grave concern” about the failure to deliver sufficiently deep emission cuts and the economic and security risks that result from climate impacts. The British government had faced criticism from France and Germany for failing to include climate change on the main agenda. However, the final communique dedicates a page to climate change and states that “it is one of the foremost challenges for our future economic growth and well-being”. “We remain strongly committed to addressing the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly by 2020”. This includes wanting ICAO to come up with agreement on market based, and non market based measures, at its September conference. Specifically, the statement commits the G8 to supporting the UNFCCC’s efforts to deliver a new global climate change at the Paris Summit in 2015 and reiterates its desire to produce a more ambitious policy framework than the current one. Click here to view full story…
UNEP Executive Director says airlines must agree on cutting their carbon emissions
June 17, 2013 Achim Steiner, who is the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has written an op-ed in the China Daily and in China.org. He says that airlines need to cut their carbon emissions. “If the world is to head off dangerous climate change and somehow keep a global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsus, we need all hands on deck. That includes airlines.” Aviation is responsible for some 5% of humnanity’s impact on the climate.” He adds: “Air travel is not only the fastest growing form of transport. It is also the most carbon intensive” and that a global agreement on a market-based measure is needed – through ICAO – to take effect by 2020, or soon after. That needs to be agreed at ICAO’s meeting this September. Achim says: “In order to realize the future we want, and need, economies must urgently begin decoupling economic growth from natural resource use, including fossil fuels. Airlines must be part of that transformation. This can be the year when ICAO departs the runway and plots a course for a low carbon future. The first stop is a global deal in Montreal.” Click here to view full story…
Frequent flyers pressure United Airlines to stop opposing climate action, such as the EU ETS
June 11, 2013 Thousands of United Airline’s frequent flyers and tens of thousands of its customers have urged them to stop opposing climate action and work with US and European agencies to reduce the aviation industry’s impact. Signatories of an open letter to chief executive Jeff Smisek include more than 500 United Airlines premier status frequent flyers, of which 20 are members of the exclusive invitation-only Global Services programme. They are joined by around 85,000 other passengers, who have signed a petition demanding bolder climate action. This comes 2 days before United’s annual shareholder meeting. They want United to stop blocking “common sense, low cost policies that would reduce airplane pollution”, such as the EU’s ETS. United has consistently spoken out against the EU ETS after it lost a 2011 lawsuit alongside American Airlines that challenged the legality of the ETS. United has also been accused of lobbying against US domestic action to combat airline pollution under the Clean Air Act. The open letter calls on United to work with the EPA to develop regulations that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from flights in and out of the US. Click here to view full story…
New data shows airlines favour industrial gas projects at lowest cost to offset emissions
June 7, 2013 Carbon Market Watch reports that recent data by the European Commission reveals for the first time the choice of offsets used by airlines during the first compliance period in the EU ETS. This shows that in 2012 airlines favoured using offset credits from HFC-23 and N2O industrial gas destruction projects, credits meanwhile banned in the EU ETS since May 2013. They are just the cheapest available. Airlines used almost 11 million offsets, 5.6 million and 5.3 million coming from the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation respectively. The ten largest emitters amongst the aircraft operators in the EU, including Lufthansa, Ryanair and Easyjet, were responsible for almost half of all offsets used. Even though offsets with environmental and social benefits are readily available at cheap prices, the airlines chose the cheapest offsets which lack environmental integrity. NGOs are demanding strict quality restrictions for any future global offsetting mechanism under ICAO. Airlines should be choosing offsets with high environmental and social integrity. Click here to view full story…
Airlines’ call for global emissions deal not convincing – too slow and relying on out-of-sector offsets
June 4, 2013 IATA, the trade body comprising 240 airlines worldwide, has finally acknowledged the need for a global market–based measure (MBM) to reduce aviation’s contribution to climate change. IATA called on their airline members to encourage their governments to agree at this year’s ICAO Assembly on a global carbon offsetting measure to take effect in 2020. However, IATA only endorses such a global scheme ‘as opposed to a patchwork of unilateral national and/or regional policy measures’. Environmental groups working on aviation emissions said though the IATA statement is welcome, rather than their usual position that better air traffic control, better planes and biofuels alone can solve the problem. However, it kicks the ball in the long grass, until after 2020, and sets out a string of unworkable conditions. It rules out the EU ETS as a stepping stone, as well as the raising of revenues, and impacts on traffic volume, which are inherent to any market-based measure. It also relies solely on out-of-sector offsets rather than real emissions reductions within the aviation sector itself. It merely compensates these emissions through investment in reduction projects in other sectors. Click here to view full story…
Divergent views among ICAO member states leaves substantive MBM agreement by 2013 hanging in the balance
May 24, 2013 Officials from 17 countries are working with ICAO to shape an agreement acceptable to its 191 member countries to reduce aviation’s carbon footprint through market measures. ICAO needs to agree on progress by its September Assembly meeting. Progress has been glacially slow over the past decade, and there appears to be no real progress now. A high-level group (HGCC) of senior officials and negotiators was set up last November to accelerate discussions and find compromises between states on MBMs, but its process has now ended. It appears that very little progress had been made and there were significant diverging views. GreenAir reports that Russia’s representative firmly rejected MBMs and even called for a reassessment of ICAO’s 2% annual fuel efficiency goal. Some ICAO representatives remained mildly optimistic that some form of an agreement could be reached by ICAO Assembly by September, with further progress towards a global scheme being achieved by 2016. It appears a number of differences between ICAO member states in key areas have not been resolved by the HGCC and time is running out for full consensus by the September Assembly – realistically it seems unlikely. Click here to view full story…
The clock has stopped on aviation’s inclusion in the ETS: but where is ICAO now?
May 2, 2013 Following the European Parliament’s vote approving the Commission’s proposal to “Stop the Clock”, Conservative MEP Peter Liese, aviation EU ETS and “Stop the Clock” Rapporteur, hosted a public briefing for MEPs in Brussels on 24th April to review progress of the ICAO High Level Group on Climate Change (HGCC) formation. The conference was attended by Jos Delbeke (Director–General DG Clima), Prof David Lee (Manchester University), IATA’s Paul Steele and Green MEP Satu Hassi. T&E have written a report on the meeting. Unless things changed, and ICAO made rapid progress leading to a constructive agreement on both the need for a global market-based mechanism (MBM) to address international aviation emissions and for a Framework to govern national/regional schemes such as the EU ETS , then the original aviation Directive would “snap back” automatically next January. The Directive wouldn’t be amended “because of pressure from China, the US or Airbus”. Jos Delbeke insisted that if the whole problem couldn’t be solved now it couldn’t be solved later and, consequently, the credibility of ICAO’s global goals was squarely on the table. Click here to view full story…
ICAO looks like wasting EU’s gesture
April 28, 2013 (Transport & Environment)
China agrees $4.1bn Airbus plane deal to buy 18 wide-body jets + $3.8 bn deal for 42 narrow-body jets
April 27, 2013 Fear by European countries, Airbus and many airlines, that loss of sales of Airbus planes to China was a reason for “stopping the clock” for a year, on aviation’s inclusion in the ETS. Now a deal has been agreed that China will buy 18 A330s from Airbus. Now inclusion of aviation in the ETS has been emasculated, Airbus is keen to sell as many planes as it can to China and returning to what it calls ‘business as usual’. The order that has now been announced is part of an earlier order for 45 wide-body jets, which are worth about $4n at list prices, although China may get a hefty discount on them. There is also an order by the Chinese for 42 A320 narrow-body jets, worth about $3.8bn though this deal had not been affected by the ETS debacle. Airbus, which is a subsidiary of EADS, hopes China will be its largest customer during coming 2 decades, buying large numbers of planes. France, Germany and Britain continue to do all they can to build strong commercial ties with China, to boost exports and income. Click here to view full story…
Crisis for ETS as EU Parliament rejects ‘backloading’ which would have improved carbon trading
April 17, 2013 In the European Parliament, MEPs have voted narrowly to reject plans to bolster the price of carbon in the EU ETS by delaying or ‘backloading’ the sale of 900 million carbon allowances, prompting accusations that they have badly dented the bloc’s reputation as a global leader in the fight against climate change. The proposals were defeated in by 334-315, forcing the plan to return to the committee stage. It is now expected that the price of carbon allowances will hit record lows in the next few days as the market responds to confirmation that short to medium-term action is unlikely to be taken to address the chronic oversupply of carbon allowances in the market. Trading after the vote saw the price of EU allowances (EUAs) fall to a new record low of €2.63 a tonne. The EC proposals to remove the 900 million allowances, in order to boost the price, were defeated by a coalition of mainly centre-right MEPs (saying it would be interference with the market-based mechanism and could lead to higher energy bills in some markets) and also climate sceptic MEPs (some UK Conservatives), who have rejected any steps to try and tackle climate change. Click here to view full story…
Airlines that have grown rapidly since 2005/6 need to buy more ETS carbon allowances
April 5, 2013 Airlines in Europe such as EasyJet and Ryanair, which almost entirely fly within Europe, continue to need to buy carbon permits through the EU Emissions Trading System. The ETS has been temporarily suspended this year (“stopping the clock”) for flights to and from Europe. For intra-EU flights, the ETS means airlines need to buy 15% of the carbon permits they need, and the cap for 2012 was for 97% of their average emissions between 2004 – 2006. This falls to 95% for 2013 and future years. Therefore airlines that have grown significantly since 2004 -6 such as Ryanair and EasyJet have to pay more than airlines that have barely grown, or shrunk their emissions since then (the older legacy airlines). It seem Ryanair emitted about 34% more carbon in 2012 and so has a shortfall of 1.9 million tons CO2 which would cost it €8.4 million based on a price of €4.44 a metric ton. Easyjet’s emissions were 25% above, so their shortage last year would amount to about 910,000 tons (costing about €4 million). Click here to view full story…
Update by Annie Petsonk of the US Environmental Defense Fund on the slow grinding of ICAO on aviation CO2
March 27, 2013 ICAO continues to try and find a way to find an agreed way in which to deal with international aviation emissions. The ICAO high level group was formed last November, to provide guidance on an international approach to the problem . At ICAO’s next triennial assembly in September, governments will try to agree on the outlines of such an approach. If they do not, then the EU ETS – which has had its clock “stopped” for one year – will resume for flights into and out of Europe. Aviation accounts for so much carbon pollution that it would rank seventh in the world if it were a country, and its emissions are projected to quadruple in coming years. Something needs to be agreed urgently for the sector. However, there are continuing disagreements between countries – on whether portions of flights over oceans are counted; whether countries could charge for over-flying; how to fairly deal with emissions from countries with rapidly growing airline industries, compared to those with mature and stagnant aviation sectors; and how to create effective but low cost solutions. There is some hope of a lead from President Obama and John Kerry, the new US Secretary of State. Click here to view full story…
European Parliament approves stop-the-clock proposal for ETS
March 27, 2013 The European Parliament has approved a proposal to suspend the inclusion of third-country flights (the ‘stop-the-clock’ proposal) from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Parliament had reached an agreement with Council beforehand. The decision was unanimous in Council and agreed on by over 90% of MEPs. The EU reaffirms again its position on this agreement. Rapporteur Peter Liese said “The EU will consider any further legal action only on the basis of a substantial outcome at the ICAO Assembly. This either means that ICAO finds a solution or we will continue to cover intercontinental flights in our scheme as foreseen”. Click here to view full story…
New study shows that global emissions trading is essential to close aviation’s emissions gap in 2050
March 4, 2013 A new authoritative study by Professor David Lee shows that only adoption of a global ‘market-based measure’ (MBM) can bring the ICAO goal, and aviation industry’s shared goal of 2020 ‘carbon neutral growth’ by 2050 within reach. The total impact of all other CO2 reduction measures currently on the table (improved technology and fuel efficiency of aircraft, improved operational efficiency and some use of biofuels) is shown to be insufficient. The report comes just before the March meetings of ICAO’s Council and its High Level Advisory Group, charged with advising on a resolution to address global emissions for ICAO’s triennial Assembly next September. Projections of future aviation emissions show by 2050 the cuts ICAO and IATA aspire to will not be met, without MBM, such as the ETS. The study demonstrates that claims from industry, ICAO and some governments that current measures being discussed will be sufficient to tame aviation emissions are false. It shows definitively that pricing carbon via a global MBM is the only way to arrest aviation’s climate impact – already at 5% of the global total, with traffic growing at 4-5% a year. The ETS, on which progress has been halted for a year, needs to be protected. Click here to view full story…
European Parliament’s Environment Committee rejects allowing more offsets for aviation industry
February 27, 2013 The Committee has rejected a proposal related to the offset limit for airlines. This proposal would have allowed intra-European flights to offset nearly 100% of their reduction obligations. Ofsets are international credits, from carbon cuts outside the EU, and are not actual European carbon reductions. Allowing aviation to offset all their reduction obligations with offsets from outside the EU would add about 20 million international credits into the EU ETS. International credits are already 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. As the proposal has been rejected, only 15% of aviation allowances can be offsets, rather than up to almost 100% if the amendments had gone through. Carbon Market Watch hopes a global deal by ICAO will also strong quality provisions for international offsets. Click here to view full story…
MEPs back the EU “Stop the Clock” proposal to delay inclusion of non-EU flights in ETS for one year
February 27, 2013 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. Click here to view full story…
The clock has stopped but time is running out for ICAO – Comment by Bill Hemmings (T&E)
February 19, 2013 In a very interesting and detailed opinion by Bill Hemmings, of the Brussels-based European transport NGO, he explains what is happening – or rather not happening – at ICAO to deal with international aviation CO2 emissions. After the EU “stopped the clock” on the inclusion of emissions from flights into and out of Europe, ICAO was meant to be working diligently to find a global solution. If ICAO is to retain any credibility on this, some form of progress is needed so there is a realistic proposal by September, at its triennial general assembly. However, though the ICAO expert group had concluded that the favoured basis for a global market-based measure was either global carbon offsetting or emissions trading, it has spent little time moving these options forward. Instead, leading members are questioning the fundamental premise of why developing countries should participate at all in a global scheme. And as regards regional schemes like the EU’s, they are insisting that foreign carriers participate only by mutual agreement. It has opened a bottomless pit of national self-interest claims. Constructive progress looks unlikely any time soon. Click here to view full story…
Airlines charging passengers for ‘costs’ (for the EU ETS) they don’t have to pay – so making windfall profits
February 18, 2013 Airlines are making so-called ‘windfall profits’ of up to €1.3bn by charging passengers for permits to pollute, through the EU Emissions Trading System. The airlines no longer need to hand the permits over to the EU as the ETS has has been suspended for one year (except for flights within Europe). Transport & Environment is calling for the airlines not to retain these windfall profits, as keeping them is a betrayal of passengers’ contributions to fight climate change. T&E aviation manager Bill Hemmings said: ‘Passengers have paid towards fighting climate change, so it is unjust for airlines to retain these revenues as windfall profits.” Instead, T&E is calling for any such profits to fund developing countries’ efforts to deal with the effects of climate change, through the UN’s Green Climate Fund. There is little doubt that airlines raised their fares at the start of 2012, citing aviation’s entry into the ETS. Delta, for example, publicly announced ‘environmental’ charges on each leg of transatlantic flights. Click here to view full story…
Important vote on EU ETS on 19th Feb – to delay sale of 900m tonnes of allowances
February 15, 2013 On February 19th, Europe’s emissions-trading system (ETS) faces a potentially fatal vote. A European Parliament committee will vote on whether to back a Commission plan to remove some of a huge surplus of carbon allowances from the ETS. It would delay the sale of about 900m tonnes of carbon allowances from around 2013-16 to 2019-20, and give the EC the power to rearrange the ETS’s schedule of auctions. Opposition to the proposal has been led by heavy industry and EU member Poland, which is highly dependent on carbon-intensive coal and argues there is no case for intervention in the market. The vote could not only determine whether the world’s biggest carbon-trading market survives but delay the emergence of a worldwide market, damage Europe’s environmental policies across the board and affect the prospects for a future treaty to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. However, even if the sale of the 900m tonnes was delayed, the oversupply of allowances would continue unless the auctions were cancelled, not just rescheduled Click here to view full story…
Europe’s climate scheme goes up in smoke – price of carbon in ETS falls to rock bottom
January 27, 2013 Carbon trading, one of the major European Union policies designed to combat climate change, is failing. A combination of successful lobbying by industry bodies, political interference and lack of economic growth has wrecked the scheme. It is now cheaper to pollute the atmosphere than to invest in becoming energy-efficient. At its peak, the cost of a tonne of carbon reached €30 in 2008. It was around €10 – 15 in 2011; around €7 – 9 in 2012. Earlier this month dropped below €5 for the first time, and it has now fallen to €2.81 – an all time low. For it to work, the ETS depends on the price of the units of carbon being high enough to give polluters an incentive to reduce their emissions – but the price is to low to do this. Joanna Cabello from Carbon Trade Watch said: “The ETS is not fit for purpose. It has generated windfall profits for polluting corporations, postponed the needed transition away from fossil fuels, and its unintended consequences are locking the EU into another generation of energy production based on fossil fuels.” Non EU airlines may be exempted from inclusion in the ETS for one year, if this is endorsed by the EU member states – this is still to happen. If it is not endorsed they will need to submit their allowances in April, as will EU airlines. The cost of these carbon allowances is now very low indeed. Click here to view full story…
ICAO Options for Allocating International Aviation CO2 Emissions between Countries – an Assessment
January 12, 2013 ICAO has the task of working out a mechanism by which international aviation carbon emissions can be allocated, so they can be subject to market based mechanisms (MBM), in order to control them. It is not a simple task to work out a fair mechanism for doing this, that will be acceptable to all countries. The three main options that have been identified by the MBM experts are to impose obligations based on (1). On all departing international flights from a State. (2). On all international flights carried out by operators registered in a given State. (3). On international flights on the basis of the nationality of airspace travelled through. There could then be sub-options. This article explores those options, and assesses them on their transparency/trust (it is important that third parties can independently verify carbon emissions); Simplicity (complex allocation systems are inefficient and threaten transparency); Fairness/equity (carbon obligations need to be placed on the entities that are emitting the CO2). The writer concludes that the first option, of allocating carbon to all flights departing from a State is best on all 3 criteria. Click here to view full story…
T&E says global action to tackle aviation now only ‘down to political will’ in ICAO
December 4, 2012 ICAO has recognised that a global market-based measure to tackle aviation’s contribution to climate change is technically feasible. T&E has said this is an important step, as it now means the only obstacle to global action on aviation emissions is political will. The EU has moved to improve the negotiating climate by proposing a delay of one year in the requirement for flights to and from the EU to comply with its ETS. The next step for ICAO is for a ‘high-level group’ of geographically representative senior government officials to make proposals for a market-based measure, which would then be put to the next ICAO Assembly in September 2013. At this stage, the likely outcome is far from clear. It is now a matter of political will, and T&E has said – throughout the 15 years of ICAO inaction since the Kyoto protocol was signed – that technical objections were simply a convenient excuse. There is no longer any excuse for inaction and the high level group needs to work quickly. Click here to view full story…
Obama fails first climate test by rejecting inclusion of US aviation in EU ETS
November 28, 2012 Barack Obama has signed a law excluding US airlines from the ETS, which is a blow to hopes for stronger climate action during the president’s 2nd term. Environmental campaigners had urged him to veto the aviation bill as a sign of his commitment to fighting climate change. The White House said in a statement Obama still saw climate change as a priority but that he disagreed with subjecting US and other foreign airlines to the ETS. They said the Obama administration would work to resolve airline emissions through the ICAO. But this is disappointing to European officials and to campaigners in the US who had urged Obama to veto the bill. After winning re-election Obama listed climate change as one of the three main challenges facing the country. Connie Hedegaard tweeted: Aviation ETS: So far the re-elected Pres. #Obama #climate policies look EXACTLY as in first term. Wonder when we’ll see the announced change?” Click here to view full story…
ICAO now says there are likely to be further delays in its attempt to work out a global carbon plan
November 16, 2012 One step forward, two steps back … A top official at the UN’s ICAO – Secretary General Raymond Benjamin – has said he welcomed the EU’s suspension of its ETS in order to give ICAO time to thrash out a plan to reduce the aviation’s carbon footprint globally. On Monday the EU put its ETS scheme on hold for a year as ICAO had said it would set up a committee to work through difficult political issues that are blocking its progress, such as how to deal fairly with developing nations. Benjamin now says he cannot rule out further delays in ICAO’s work. Benjamin said in June that he believed the agency would narrow down the three “market-based measures” still being considered and put its weight behind a single option by March 2013. But now he cannot guarantee this would happen before next fall’s ICAO general assembly in Montreal in November 2013. Announcing the one year delay in ETS, EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said of ICAO: “If this exercise does not deliver – and I hope it does – then needless to say we are back to where we are today with the EU ETS – automatically.” Possible schemes by ICAO are a cap and trade scheme, global carbon offsets, and offsetting with a revenue-generating mechanism. Click here to view full story…
Despite EU concession, US Congress passes bill to halt US airline compliance with ETS
Date added: November 14, 2012
Less than 48 hours after the EU had announced it was suspending the inclusion of flights to and from Europe from the EU ETS, the US House approved a Senate version of a bipartisan bill that aims to prevent US aircraft operators from complying with the EU legislation. The bill authorises the Secretary of Transportation to prohibit compliance if deemed in the public interest. It now goes to the President for signature. An amendment by the Senate calls for pursuance through ICAO of a worldwide approach to address aircraft emissions. The final passing of the EU ETS prohibition bill by Congress has been welcomed by US airline and aviation representatives, although US NGOs said the bill was superfluous and counterproductive. There is strong feeling in the US that the EU does not have sovereignty in the US and has no right to levy taxes on it. A spokesman for Connie Hedegaard said it is now up to the US to show that they are serious about pushing for a global solution. Click here to view full story…
EC freezes ETS for airlines flying to and from Europe till November 2013 progress by ICAO
November 12, 2012 The EU has announced that it will delay the date by which airlines have to pay for their emissions on flights to and from Europe. This is very disappointing news. However, they will only delay until there is progress by ICAO on producing a global deal on aviation emissions. If there is not adequate progress by ICAO when it meets in November 2013, the EU ETS will continue to include international aviation, as it does now. Flights within Europe remain in the ETS as before – whether by EU airlines or non-EU airlines – the change is only for flights to and from the EU. Connie Hedegaard, announcing the change, said EU member states will still have to formally endorse the Commission’s exemption for non-EU carriers. The change has occurred because of intense pressure from countries such as the USA, India and China – and lobbying from Airbus on fears the ETS is causing it to lose plane sales. China and India have far more to lose than us if they start a trade war, because they export far more to us than we export there. Nonetheless, the EU and UK have meekly conceded to blackmail from China instead of doing the right thing. We understand that David Cameron was lobbying the EU to defer ETS. It demonstrates, yet again, the UK and EU leaders prefer to sacrifice action on climate change in favour of narrow business interests. The EC has repeatedly said it only included aviation in the ETS after more than a decade of inaction at the ICAO. Unfortunately the concessions made by the EC are much larger than required, and there is no expectation that ICAO will come up with anything worthwhile in the next year.but on the positive side, the EC can no longer be accused of not doing anything in response to voluble continuing criticism over its approach to aviation and climate change. Click here to view full story…
NGOs cautiously welcome ICAO’s decision to speed up work on a global measure to reduce aviation emissions
November 9, 2012 The Council meeting of ICAO has agreed on some important issues relating to so-called ‘market based measures’ (MBMs) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation. These recognise that global MBMs are technically feasible, while in the past there have been objections. In the past there has been insufficient political will, but now the decisions have moved to a political level. Tim Johnson, Director of Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) said: “ICAO has shown that with coordinated effort the technical issues can be resolved. Similar and rapid effort is now required to resolve the political questions in a spirit of fairness and equity while remembering that addressing aviation’s climate change impacts is a necessity. Everyone says a global approach is the way to go – now it’s time to match these words with deeds.” ICAO will now set up a High Level Group which will make proposals on an MBM as well as a so-called ‘framework’ for MBMs on how countries would implement them. These proposals will be put to the triennial Assembly in September 2013. Click here to view full story…
Senate votes to shield US airlines from EU’s carbon scheme
September 23, 2012 The US Senate unanimously passed a bill on Saturday 22nd September that would shield US airlines from paying the EU ETS. The Senate approved the bill in a scramble to complete business ahead of the Nov. 6 congressional and presidential elections. The message was that the EU “cannot impose taxes on the United States.” It is being spun that the ETS is a way of the EU “paying down European debt through this illegal tax” and the money should instead be”investing in creating jobs and stimulating our own economy.” There was backing from both parties. The House of Representatives has passed a similar measure, and could either work out differences with the Senate’s version or accept the Senate bill when Congress returns for a post-election session. The Senate bill gives the US transportation secretary authority to stop US airlines from complying with the ETS. The bill increases pressure on the ICAO to devise a global alternative to the EU ETS. Click here to view full story…
EU states deny reports that their Airbus ministers seek suspension of EU ETS until ICAO agreement
GreenAir online 13.9.2012 http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1589 which includes this: A spokesman at the UK’s Department for Business said it was incorrect that his minister was calling for a suspension of aviation from the EU ETS. “The UK is committed to reducing aviation emissions and to the role of the EU ETS in doing so,” he told GreenAir. “Like other European nations, the UK is keen to address issues that have been raised by a number of nations around the operation of the aviation element of the EU ETS. There was agreement by the European ministers at the Berlin Air Show that these issues need to be addressed through a global agreement to tackle aviation emissions. We recognise that a failure to resolve these issues could have a serious impact on the UK and European aerospace manufacturing and aviation sectors. We are pressing for faster progress in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and other fora to secure a global solution which delivers on the EU’s objectives of continuing to reduce emissions from aviation.”
Airbus tries to get inclusion of aviation in ETS suspended. EU confirms no change.
September 13, 2012 There have been press stories suggesting that European officials backing Airbus are recommending the suspension of ETS in order to avert a trade war with major economic powers such as China and the USA. China and India do not allow their airlines to participate in the ETS because the charge is for the whole flight distance, not just the section over Europe. Beijing has blocked purchases of European aircraft (Airbus) by its carriers, so Airbus is unhappy about losing its fastest-growing market and is putting strong pressure on the EU as they may lose plane sales. Those backing Airbus want a “solution” before April 2013, but the matter is not due to be dealt with by ICAO till September 2013. Connie Hedegaard has confirmed that there are “no changes in EU and member states approach on the ETS and aviation” and this is just pressure from Airbus. The EU has repeatedly said it won’t give up its pollution curbs on airlines. Click here to view full story…
Why Tim Yeo is wrong about carbon emissions from UK aviation being controlled by the ETS (Carbon Briefing)
August 30, 2012 This piece from the Carbon Brief sets out how the carbon emissions from UK aviation are dealt with by the ETS, and why Tim Yeo (and others promoting huge expansion of UK air travel, beyond the limit recommended by the Committee on Climate Change), have got it wrong. Besides the apparent misunderstanding about the failings of the ETS, Yeo also suggested that that if the UK were to increase its airport capacity, carriers would be more likely to send their newer, more efficient planes to Heathrow. Carbon Brief explains that this would not happen as there doesn’t seem to be any reason why airlines would send their newest planes to the UK over other EU destinations. If the ETS works as it is meant to, the price of carbon permits would go up, so the cost of flying would go up. And the UK would have to either cut down on aviation demand (very unlikely) or overstep its emissions cap, as no government would be popular if it tried to ration air travel. Click here to view full story…
Environmental case for Heathrow expansion is as weak as ever. Why Tim Yeo is wrong on aviation and the EU ETS (BusinessGreen)
August 29, 2012 This is an article from BusinessGreen, with a good and clear explanation of why Tim Yeo is utterly wrong with his pronouncements on aviation and the ETS. You would have thought someone who is Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee should know this. The ETS cannot and will not prevent aviation emissions from rising, because of the current weakness and failures of the ETS, meaning it does not work properly, largely as the carbon price is too low and dubious credits are imported from outside. However, supposing the ETS did work perfectly, it would drive up the cost of flying hugely as permits become scarce and expensive as carbon cuts are harder and harder for other sectors to make. There would then be no need for more runways as demand would fall greatly. So no need for a new Heathrow runway, or a new airport. Unless planes could become virtually zero carbon – of which there is no current prospect. Click here to view full story…
Retaliation On Airline Carbon May Breach Law: says Cambridge researcher
August 23, 2012 A Cambridge University researcher has given the opinion that nations which retaliate against the EU ETS may fall foul of international trade rules and the WTO. The researcher, who is a lecturer in WTO and international law, said: “If a World Trade Organization member restricts EU flights over its territory, or landing slots for EU flights in its territory, it is likely to violate WTO obligations ensuring non- discriminatory treatment of trade in goods, as well as freedom of transit.” They noticed the irony of Russia, which only joined the WTO yesterday, immediately trying to use trade restrictions for political purposes. The researcher said the WTO permits measures that are necessary “to protect human, animal or plant life or health,” and a successful WTO complaint against the ETS would have to show that the EU could have achieved the same goal another way that is “both reasonably available and less trade- restrictive than the measure adopted. This is notoriously difficult to assess”. Click here to view full story…
Change of direction promised by US on international aviation inclusion in EU ETS
July 31, 2012 A group of 16 countries (so far un-named) are meeting in the US about the ETS, and how a global “solution” might be found to aviation emissions. The opponents of the ETS, even though it adds so very little to a trans-Atlantic flight ($3 or so one way) want ICAO to come up with some scheme that is global. However, if ICAO can ever agree a scheme, it will both take years to bring about, and is likely to be too weak to be effective. ICAO’s only target now is an “aspirational” one (meaning not binding at all) to keep global aviation emissions at 2020 levels, after 2020, by buying offsets for increases. Annie Petsonk of US NGO Environmental Defense Fund said yesterday the US airlines’ and their trade association’s motive was “to tie up ICAO so deeply in the ponderous process that it will never have time to work on a serious agreement on climate change.” Click here to view full story…
EU faces prolonged wait for a global resolution in aviation ETS row
July 4, 2012 A global resolution to Europe’s battle with China and other countries over curbing aviation emissions is unlikely before October 2013, risking growing pressure from domestic airlines and trade partners. Senior EU officials say they will not retreat from enforcing obligations under the ETS, and a decision is expected shortly on how the EU will respond to defiant Chinese and Indian airlines that failed to meet a 31 March deadline. Officials say that an ICAO draft plan is not likely until March 2013 and that the full ICAO council – representing the international body’s 191 member states – would then not consider it until a meeting due in October 2013 – or if no decision is made, it could be 2016 before a resolution would be considered again. Click here to view full story…
ICAO drops one of its 4 possible options for a global aviation emissions scheme
June 30, 2012 The ICAO has narrowed its focus to 3 broad options to address aviation emissions, eliminating the baseline and credit system. ICAO’s governing council, meeting in Montreal this week, agreed to rule the scheme, where increases or decreases from an initial emissions baseline could be traded. It is being dropped as it is similar to another option being considered, global carbon offsetting. The 3 other remaining options are: offsetting with a revenue-generating mechanism, and cap and trade emissions trading. ICAO expects to have something agreed by March 2013, though environmental commentators are sceptical they can deliver anything effective. Connie Hedegaard would like to see progress by the November ICAO meeting. Click here to view full story…
Switzerland (not in the EU) draws up regulation to include international aviation in its ETS as it negotiates linkage with the EU ETS
Mon 25 June 2012 – Switzerland is to demand all aircraft operators, domestic and international, serving its airports to record tonne-kilometre (TK) data from 1 January 2013, with the submission of monitoring plans for approval required by the end of this September. The move follows ongoing discussions between the European Union and Switzerland on linking the EU ETS and the Swiss ETS from 2014, with the EU insisting that Switzerland includes civil aviation emissions as well as those from stationary installations in the Swiss scheme. http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1483
EU resists pressure to change carbon air law-letters
27.6.2012 No airline will face a bill until next April after emissions for this year have been calculated. Meanwhile work has intensified at ICAO to make progress towards a global deal. The body is meeting until the end of the week in Montreal. It is not expected to make rapid progress and some have voiced scepticism it can deliver at all, especially as the EU only introduced its plan for tackling airline emissions after more than a decade of ICAO talks produced nothing. Apart from an ICAO solution, the Commission has repeatedly said the only other reason for exemptions would be if other countries come up with “equivalent measures”. http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFL6E8HQJZQ20120627?sp=true
Aviation emissions compromise possible between ICAO and European Union
June 19, 2012 The ICAO secretary-general Raymond Benjamin has said ICAO has narrowed down to 4 schemes the alternatives to the EU ETS, which it vigorously opposes. It is possible that some sort of compromise might happen. Some draft proposal should be produced by ICAO by March 2013, not the end of 2012, as had previously been suggested. Europe has repeatedly replied to opposition to the ETS that its hand was forced to go it alone after waiting in vain for more than 15 years for ICAO to come up with a global system to reduce aviation’s greenhouse gases. Their tardiness has been largely due to airline lobbies. There are now firm deadlines that will lead to a plenary assembly of ICAO in Montreal in September 2013 at which all 191 countries will be asked to vote on a single initiative. The EU has said they would modify their ETS if there is an equivalent global scheme. ICAO wants the funds from an ETS to go to aviation, while the EU ETS funds go into general government revenues. Click here to view full story…
ICAO aviation body says will have emissions plan by March
18.6.2012 (Reuters) Click here to view full story …..
Encouraging progress at ICAO on developing a market-based measure should not be undermined by Europe, says IATA
15.6.2012 (GreenAir online) http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1478
Chinese airlines refuse EU data request
June 12, 2012 Chinese airlines will refuse to submit carbon emissions data to the EU by this week’s deadline. This was extended from 31st March. The airlines say they are unanimous on this. Chinese officials says if the EU carries through with its threat of penalising Chinese airlines, they would immediately retaliate with measures against European airlines, which could include impounding European planes. There is now a Chinese working group to devise a list of retaliatory steps to be taken against the EU if any Chinese airline is penalised. They are still campaigning for the EU only to charge for carbon on internal EU flights. Under the EU plan, Germany will determine whether Air China is in breach of ETS regulations or not; France will monitor China Southern Airlines; and the Netherlands will monitor China Eastern Airlines. Click here to view full story…
Analysis of EU ETS shows that it is the same as other charges in reaching beyond sovereign airspace
June 7, 2012 The American Environmental Defense Fund says – in response to critics of the EU ETS who say the scheme should not operate outside European airspace – that this argument is incorrect. Though part of a flight from, say, the USA is not over Europe, the flight only takes place because its destination is in Europe. Without that being the destination of the passengers, the plane would not be there. All the emissions from the whole flight occur because the passengers want to get to Europe – so all are within the EU ETS. This principle has been agreed by the UNCCC and ICAO. The EDF also rejects arguments based on sovereignty because many countries already impose charges like arrival or departure taxes, on the whole flight, and not only part of it. The ETS is no different. Click here to view full story…
8 Chinese airlines and 2 Indian still hold out against complying with the EU ETS
May 20, 2012 Chinese airlines have confirimed that they still support their government’s opposition to the ETS. Chinese airlines will continue to oppose the ETS despite the EU’s warning that it might take punitive measures in response. The Chinese airlines say they will not comply with the system unless ordered to do so by their government. Eight Chinese airlines, along with two from India have not submitted 2011 carbon emission data to the EU yet, whereas 1,200 carriers have. The Chinese say the airlines that are not complying could be fined or even banned from flying to Europe. Click here to view full story…
Legal article confirming legality of EU decision on airlines in ETS
May 16 2012 From Jones Day, a large law firm. http://www.jonesday.com/
This article is on the December 2011 ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union,Air Transport Association of America, et al. vs. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (C-366/10). At stake was the validity of Directive 2008/101/EC, amending Directive 2003/87/EC. They conclude that: …”the CJEU found that the Directive was subject to review under principles of international law and the Open Skies Agreement. However, the court ultimately found that the Directive did not contravene the requirements of either body of law, concluding that its examination of the Directive “disclosed no factor of such a kind as to affect its validity.” and ”As far as the ability of the EU’s legislature to regulate those parts of flights not conducted over EU airspace, the court concluded that the fact that certain activities contributing to the pollution of the air, sea, or land territory of the Member States occur partly outside that territory is not sufficient to call into question the full applicability of European Union law in that territory.“ http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=ab875d02-7725-41f1-b296-ce989008364f
EU hails airline emissions tax success
May 16, 2012 More than 99% (1,200) of all major global airlines have complied with the first step of the EU ETS. After the howls of protest from a range of countries, now virtually all submitted the required baseline emissions data for 2011. Only eight Chinese airlines and two Indian ones did not comply by the 31 March deadline. Connie Hedegaard, the European commissioner for climate action, said that these represent just 3% of aviation emissions. Hedegaard said the EU was currently negotiating with China on whether equivalent measures could be put in place by the Chinese authorities, which the EU would find acceptable. But the slight reduction in ETS carbon emissions last year happened due to the recession, not due to the ETS. Sandbag said the massive oversupply of carbon allowances that threaten to haunt the system until 2020. Click here to view full story…
Airlines ‘are conforming’ with EU rules on emissions
May 15, 2012 The figures suggest opposition to the EU airline charge is melting away, except in India and China. The EC says the vast majority of airlines have conformed with EU rules on reporting CO2 emissions. The EU required airlines to report by March 2012 on 2011 emissions as a “dry run”; all did, bar 10 from China and India. The EU has asked the 10 airlines that have not yet submitted figures to do so by mid June. Failure to comply would mean an airline would pay a penalty of €100 / tonne of CO2 emitted, and a ban from EU airspace if they refuse to pay. In March 2013, the em