More business aviation operators could soon be permitted to use Eurocontrol's emissions trading system (ETS) support facility, under new draft legislation from the European Commission which proposes raising the threshold to qualify for the simplified tool.
The support facility allows certain business aviation operators to enter compliance data for the EU's ETS into a spreadsheet that uses modelling to estimate fuel consumption. This significantly reduces the administrative cost of complying with ETS.
Under existing legislation, only operators with fewer than 243 flights in three consecutive four-month periods - or annual carbon dioxide emissions of less than 10,000 tonnes - are permitted to use it.
However, while the requirement on flight numbers remains the same under the draft legislation, the wording has been changed to say that operators with annual emissions "lower than 25,000 tonnes of CO2 per year shall be considered small emitters".
Neil Duffy, technical manager at verifier ICM ETS, said the proposed change is good news for "all but the largest commercial business aviation operators".
The new legislation, if adopted, would not take effect until 2013. Therefore, data for 2011 and 2012 would still need to be collected as per the existing rules.
"The operators who will benefit most from this are commercial business aircraft operators based in Europe, and airlines based near Europe with a relatively small number of flights to member states," said Duffy.
But the draft legislation does not go as far as some had hoped. The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) had been calling for the 10,000 tonne threshold to be raised to 50,000 tonnes or 100,000 tonnes.
EBAA chief operating officer Pedro Vicente Azua said the proposal is "a positive step", but it "falls a bit short".
Azua added that the EBAA will continue to lobby for the threshold to be raised to 50,000 tonnes.
"This would cover a big tranche of other commercial operators that are still very small, with 10-15 aircraft in their fleets," he said.
While the support facility reduces the costs and time associated with ETS compliance, Duffy warns that because it is based on estimations of fuel burn rates, it "can be less accurate than direct monitoring and may result in an over-estimation for some types, meaning more allowances may need to be surrendered".
His advice to operators that fall under the proposed new small emitter category is to "consider which approach is best for them".