Thu 28 Nov 2013 – The European Parliament’s rapporteur on the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), Peter Liese, says the sector should be brought into line with other industries in the scheme and should have to reduce emissions more than the current cap and also be subject to a higher level of allowance auctioning. Although he supports the European Commission’s proposal to reduce the original scope of aviation emissions to just European airspace, by tightening the cap he argues the environmental integrity would be partly retained. Liese also wants changes to the Commission proposal to ensure the airspace approach is limited until the end of 2016, when the EU should review progress at the next ICAO Assembly on a global carbon scheme. He also calls for auction revenues to be earmarked for global climate finance and R&D investment in technology to reduce aviation emissions.
Liese, who is steering the new legislation through Parliament, said he supported the core elements of the Commission’s airspace proposals. He said they were a compromise between the views of a number of stakeholders, including European low-fares airlines, some NGOs and many members of the Parliament, who wanted a return to the full scope, and others who were arguing for a continuation of the one-year Stop-the-Clock derogation until 2016 or even 2020.
“This approach is much better than the current Stop-the-Clock solution because not only inter-European flights are included, but also flights to non-European countries, even if only for the part of the trip in European airspace,” said a statement from Liese. “However, this is an important point. A flight from Paris or London to the new hub in Istanbul would be almost completely included. Under Stop-the-Clock, it is not included at all. The same is true for flights to hubs in the Emirates, which are not included under Stop-the-Clock but at least would be partly covered by the Commission proposal.”
Liese insisted that flights to and from third countries could not be excluded from the scheme. “Just stopping the clock until 2016 is not an option for me and many other colleagues in Parliament,” he said. “The inclusion of all flights taking off and landing in Europe for the part that they travel in European airspace is indispensable. This is a matter of fairness [for] European airlines and their competitive situation, and the environment.”
Liese said an extension of Stop-the-Clock could be considered an “unconditional surrender” by the European Union in international negotiations on the global scheme.
The Commission’s proposals do not foresee any further amendment of the EU ETS directive until 2020, but in an explanatory statement to his formal proposals to be considered by fellow MEPs, Liese said an amendment to the directive would only be justified because a legally-binding agreement on global aviation emissions was expected at the 2016 ICAO Assembly. “While this is a real option, it is not at all guaranteed,” he said. “That is why it is reasonable to limit the airspace approach until 2016 and to reintroduce the full ETS from 2017. If the international agreement really is adopted in ICAO in 2016, of course the European Union should be ready to modify the legislation accordingly.”
Liese is not convinced though that ICAO will reach an agreement in 2016. “The deal from October in Montreal [at the recent Assembly] is no more precise and ambitious than the deal done at the UNFCCC COP in Warsaw,” he said. The Assembly resolution to develop a global market-based measure for international aviation had been an important step but had contained a lot of conditions and pre-conditions, he added.
“We need to be prepared to fully implement our scheme after 2016 in case there is no global agreement. This would mean we also cover intercontinental flights.”
He said the favourable treatment accorded to the aviation sector, in which the level of auctioning was 15% compared to an industry average of 40% and a cap of 5% when other industries had to reduce their emissions by 21% by 2020, had been a source of criticism from the Parliament during the 2007/2008 legislative process on the directive.
The airspace approach reduced the emissions covered by the original EU ETS scope to just 40%, he said. “To limit the damage to the environment, it is justified to increase the level of auctioning and necessary to reduce emissions at least to the level that other industries have already to comply with since the beginning of 2013.”
In another amendment, Liese proposes that auction revenues be earmarked for funding climate change mitigation and adaptation in the EU and third countries, low-emissions transport, covering EU ETS administrative costs and contributions to the UNFCCC Green Climate Fund. He said this would build confidence in the EU ETS at an international level.
Liese said that such a commitment had been argued by the Parliament during the passing of the original directive. “At the time, Member States were not ready to accept this and only a recommendation is included in the directive. It would facilitate the acceptance of the EU scheme if Member States accepted a much clearer commitment.”
As the directive in its original form is reverted to in the event the amended legislation is not passed by the end of April, Liese stresses the need for a speedy co-decision process with Parliament and the Council. He said the vote by the Environment Committee on the issue would take place on January 30, with the final vote taken in a plenary session in April after trilogue with the Commission and Council.
The Environment Committee is due to consider the draft report on December 16, with the Transport Committee due to consider its own draft report on the Commission proposals around the same date. Environment ministers from the 28 Member States are due to discuss the issue when they meet on December 13.
Peter Liese statement
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