EU ETS aviation emissions

Aviation ETS deal reins in some of sector’s special treatment, but more effort needed

The agreement reached last night between EU institutions regarding aviation’s inclusion in Europe’s emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) introduces some welcome improvements to the original proposal but much more is needed, sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) has said.

The European Commission’s proposal to permanently remove flights to and from Europe from the EU ETS has been replaced with a derogation lasting until the end of 2023. Furthermore the deal envisages much greater scrutiny of the global measure adopted last year by the UN’s aviation agency ICAO, which aims to offset emissions from international aviation above 2020 levels but is missing important rules regarding enforcement and environmental integrity.

Andrew Murphy, aviation manager at T&E, said: “The provisional deal ensures there is no blank cheque for ICAO, and recognises the need for aviation to remain under a reformed EU ETS which will now see the cap on aviation emissions reduce each year. This is particularly important given that so little is known about the environmental effectiveness of the global measure.”

However, the agreement still falls short of what is required to address the sector’s soaring emissions, which in Europe grew 8% in 2016 alone. Even a continued EU ETS, the environmental integrity of which is much stronger than what is being proposed by ICAO, won’t alone be enough to set the sector on an emissions pathway consistent with the Paris agreement. Given these challenges, it is especially welcome that the deal contains a commitment to address aviation’s considerable non-CO2 effects.

Andrew Murphy concluded: “A reformed EU ETS is also only part of puzzle. The EU must continue to promote complementary measures such as ending tax exemptions and phasing out state aid to the sector. The Commission must also follow through on the commitment to address non-CO2 emissions.”

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EU ETS aviation emissions