EU Exempts Most Aviation Emissions from Carbon Controls
Transport & Environment (T&E) and Carbon Market Watch cried foul late last week, after the European Commission proposed to exempt air travel to and from the continent from the EU Emissions Trading System.
The decision followed the Commission’s review of the half-hearted emission reduction deal concluded last fall, at the International Civil Aviation Organization’s triennial assembly in Montreal. That agreement postponed the introduction of a Global Market-Based Measure (GMBM) to control aviation emission until 2021, after more than a decade of persistent delays—then made the 2021 agreement voluntary until 2027.
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T&E notes that the EC decision “cuts across the conclusions of its own impact assessment that, even if the recent UN global aviation deal gets off the ground, it will fall well short of the required ambition” on greenhouse gas reductions.
“The Commission has chosen to again suspend the only effective measure to regulate aviation emissions, all for a voluntary deal which is years from coming into operation and which may never actually reduce the climate impact of flying,” said T&E Aviation Director Bill Hemmings. “By letting aviation off the hook again, other sectors will now have to do more on cutting their climate emissions even while air travel demand soars.”
“The EU has once again caved in under pressure from countries like the U.S. and Russia,” added Carbon Market Watch Policy Officer Kelsey Perlman. “The global aviation deal is not strong enough to justify the extension of this derogation. The EU should continue to work towards a global solution, but show climate leadership and not let the international agreement undermine domestic ambition.”
Carbon Market Watch adds that, “while the international scheme is a modest first step to address growing emissions from aviation, it is not in line with the Paris climate agreement’s goal to decarbonize by the second half of this century and limit global temperature rise to below 2°C.”
By exempting flights to and from Europe, the EC decision leaves three-quarters of the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions unregulated, T&E notes. Moreover, “despite an ongoing obligation to act, the proposal continues to ignore the substantial non-CO2 effects of aviation, which have a warming impact equal to or greater than the CO2 effects of flying.”