Plans to reactivate the EU Emissions Trading System for all flights within the bloc’s airspace have been voted through by the European Parliament’s environmental committee, although the proposal still needs to be debated between the parliament, member states and the European Commission.
Currently, only flights within the EU and European Economic Area are covered under ETS after the Commission excluded all other flights from the scheme in 2012. That “stop the clock” measure was implemented due to global opposition led by China and the USA.
However, the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee today voted in favour of a proposed rule change, which would again extend the ETS to intercontinental flights and other services to destinations outside the EU and EEA.
The crucial difference with the original ETS regulation is that intercontinental flights would only be charged for the portion of their routing within EU airspace, not the complete flightpath.
If the proposed amendment is legislated – the final, plenary vote is scheduled for April – the new rule should become effective from April 2015 until 2016.
That is when ICAO plans to introduce a global market-based measure to regulate carbon emissions from international aviation. If ICAO fails to implement such an agreement, the original ETS regulation – which would charge intercontinental flights for their full length – will automatically apply.
However, if ICAO’s generally assembly produces a “substantial agreement” in 2016, “we need to reconsider the situation”, says the environmental committee rapporteur Peter Liese.
The Association of European Airlines has criticised the environmental committee’s decision, saying that parliamentarians have “ignored” ICAO’s roadmap to implement a global market-based agreement by 2016.
While the planned rule amendment “risks a snap-back into the full ETS after 2016”, AEA says that the “only way to ensure the competitiveness of the European air transport industry is an ICAO‐led [emissions] solution”.