The European Union won't implement its controversial
aviation Emissions Trading Scheme for flights originating from or departing to
non-EU countries, according to the EU's climate commissioner. Instead, the
European Union is providing "a window of opportunity" for the
creation of a global system developed through the International Civil Aviation
Organization. ETS automatically would once again cover all flights to and from
non-European countries should no global deal be in place following ICAO's
general assembly in autumn 2013. Internal EU flights will continue to be
included in ETS, regardless of whether the operating airline is from within or
outside the European Union.
ETS requires airlines to purchase permits should they
exceed predetermined annual emissions quotas.
Connie Hedegaard, the EC member in charge of climate action,
told journalists during a Monday press briefing that the proposal, which sprang
from "encouraging" dialogue at last week's ICAO meeting, has been
discussed with the 27 EU member states with the intention for it to be
finalized and implemented "very, very soon."
"Nobody wants an international framework on aviation
more than we do," Hedegaard said. "Now it seems that because of some
countries' dislike of our scheme, many of these countries are now prepared to
move in ICAO and even to move toward a market-based mechanism at a global
level." Hedegaard said the recent ICAO meeting produced an agreement to
establish "a high-level policy group" to tackle aviation emissions.
"Finally we have a chance to get an international
regulation on emissions from aviation," Hedegaard said. "This is
indeed progress. A lot of tough negotiations lie ahead of us. Now the time for
talking and positioning is over, and it is time to pave the way for strong
decisions to be taken at the next ICAO general assembly."
According to an EC statement, "the EU will stop the
clock on the implementation of the international aspects of its ETS aviation
[program] by deferring the obligation to surrender emissions allowances from
air traffic to and from the EU by one year. This means that the EU would not
require allowances to be surrendered in April 2013 for emissions from such
flights during the whole of 2012. The monitoring and reporting obligations will
also be deferred for such flights. The obligations relating to all operators'
activities within EU will remain intact and compliance with the EU law will be
enforced in this respect." EC described the decision to suspend
implementation for incoming and outgoing flights as "a gesture of good
Hedegaard said that while there are "no
guarantees," recent developments have been encouraging. "More
countries understand why we should try to get the international framework
around these things and why global and regional-based market mechanisms make
sense," she said. She specifically referred to a U.S. Senate decision that
"encourages their government to pursue an international deal. There are
many good forces that understand why it makes sense now really to invest in
According to a statement issued by Jason Anderson, head of
European climate and energy policy at the World Wide Fund for Nature's European
Policy Office, "The Commission's move on aviation in the ETS buys some
time for ICAO, who were arguably galvanized into action by the EU in the first
place after years of foot-dragging on this issue. Now it's up to other
countries who have been opposing action on tackling the climate impacts of
aviation, especially the United States, to show that they are serious about
pushing for a global solution."
The European Union ETS in early 2012 prompted several
airlines to raise fares or apply surcharges to offset the costs they said they
would incur. They included Lufthansa, Ryanair and South African Airways. A fare
hike instituted by Delta Air Lines and joint venture partners Air France-KLM
and Alitalia during the first week of 2012 also was attributed to ETS.