The European Commission on Monday took another technical step to bring all airlines using EU airports into its carbon trading scheme, following on from last year's court ruling that, despite opposition, the EU plan was legal.
To begin the accounting process, the Commission partly activated its registry to centralise carbon allowance accounts currently held under national registries, pending full activation, which will not take place before June.
"We have jointly taken the decision to partially activate the Union registry based on the assurance that the system is ready from a security and operational point of view," said a letter from the Commission to EU member states.
The effect is that from Monday, aircraft operators can open accounts in the central EU registry and will then become eligible for free allowances.
At the end of February, they will receive a first tranche of roughly 181 million aviation carbon permits to be handed out in 2012.
Airlines have begun buying carbon permits under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and carriers, such as Germany's Lufthansa, have said they will pass the cost on to passenger fares.
At first, airlines will get free allowances to cover some 85 percent of their emissions and their bill will only be calculated after their carbon output has been added up at the end of the year.
Gravity always wins!
As air travel becomes cheaper, EU emissions from aviation are increasing
fast. Someone flying from London to New York and back generates roughly
the same level of emissions as the average person in the EU does by
heating their home for a whole year. In order to mitigate the climate
impacts of aviation, the EU has decided to impose a cap on CO2 emissions from all international flights – from or to anywhere in the world – that arrive at or depart from an EU airport.
I had no idea that a flight could cause so many harmful emissions. That's a staggering environmental statistic. It's good to see that the EU is taking proactive action