MEPs on the Environment Committee today stood up to political pressure from member states and industry by voting to endorse the European Commission’s proposal for an aviation emissions trading system covering all of Europe’s airspace. Although the proposal regulates only 35% of airline emissions compared to the original EU ETS, it crucially captures a portion of long-haul flights – where most of aviation’s greenhouse gases originate.
The proposal would see an end to a restricted ETS covering just intra-EU flights. The restriction, known as ‘stop the clock’, was enacted as a temporary measure in 2012 to give the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) time to act on aviation’s large climate impact. But last October ICAO voted against any regional measure by Europe and in favour of a potential global deal, which may only start in 2020.
Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at Transport & Environment, said: “By backing coverage of airspace, MEPs are ensuring the system captures emissions from all flights – both intra-Europe and long-haul over European territory. The decision also reinforces EU sovereignty, something a number of member states seem reluctant to uphold.”
The governments of France, Germany, and the UK want to continue ‘stop the clock’ and restrict the ETS to intra-EU flights until 2016 or even 2020 in the mistaken belief that excluding long-haul carriers will lessen enforcement problems. But these same EU regulators have already failed to enforce breaches by the same Chinese, Indian and Saudi carriers operating intra-EU flights.
Bill Hemmings added: “Any EU measure to fight climate change needs to be enforced. It is untenable that France, Germany and the UK are failing to enforce the 2012 legislation. This should be a precondition before talks between Parliament and Council members on agreeing changes to the ETS.”