Airlines prepare for EU carbon trading scheme
source: EuroActive [edited]
A directive incorporating aviation into the EU emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) entered into force today (2 February), obliging member states to put in place appropriate legislation within a year.
All flights landing or taking off from EU airports will have to buy CO2 allowances under the bloc’s cap-and-trade system under the new directive. Trading officially begins in 2012, while member states have a year to transpose the directive into national law.
Furthermore, each carrier operating flights to or from the EU will now have to submit a plan describing how it intends to monitor and report on emissions.
The directive aims to cap greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation sector to 3% below the 2004-2006 levels in 2012, increasing to 5% for the 2013-2020 period. Airlines will consequently have to purchase 15% of their allowances via auctions. The EU says auctioning revenues should be used to combat climate change at home and in the developing world, but eventually this is left to the discretion of individual member states.
The legislation was endorsed by EU justice ministers in October 2008, despite strong criticism from airlines. They maintain the global downturn merits a reconsideration of carbon trading for the sector, which could compromise the industry’s profitability.
Nevertheless, the Commission insists that including aviation in the scheme is key if the bloc is to attain its climate goals. Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas called on the sector to make a “fair” contribution to the effort, as greenhouse gas emissions are increasing faster in international air transport than any other sector in the EU.
According to new figuresexternal from Eurostat, the number of air passengers grew by 7% in 2007 compared to the previous year. New member states including Romania and Poland experienced the largest hikes, while the UK and Germany, which registered the highest overall numbers of passengers, reported much lower growth percentages.
The EU has pledged to increase its emissions reduction target to 30% in 2020 in the event that a new international climate agreement commits other industrialised nations to similar measures. Speaking in December 2008, Dimas said aviation should therefore also play its part, claiming that the sector’s growth is not currently sustainable.
“By including aviation in the EU ETS, the EU is demonstrating leadership in addressing emissions from aviation, but we are also underlining our openness to continue a dialogue towards a global scheme. As is expressly recognised in the legislation, our ultimate goal is to get an effective global agreement to reduce emissions from aviation, and for this reason we are advocating the inclusion of emissions from aviation in the agreement to be reached in Copenhagen,” the commissioner said.