Tue 15 May 2012 – According to the European Commission, 1,200 aircraft operators have submitted their 2011 EU ETS emissions reports by the 31 March 2012 deadline but it appears Indian and Chinese airlines have heeded instructions from their authorities and failed to comply. Letters have been sent out today to the 10 airlines involved by the competent authorities of the relevant EU member states requesting receipt of their reports by June 15 in accordance with EU and national legislation. The Commission points out that almost all commercial airlines with significant operations to or from EU airports have reported on time and the 10 airlines concerned represent less than 3 per cent of aviation emissions covered by the scheme. Elsewhere in Brussels today, EU finance ministers have agreed that revenues from the auction of EU ETS aviation allowances could be used to support climate action in developing countries.
The two Indian carriers that have not complied are Air India and Jet Airways, both of which report to the UK Environment Agency as their competent authority (CA). The eight Chinese airlines have not been identified by the Commission but major carriers serving Europe such as Air China, China Southern, China Eastern and Hainan Airlines are administered by Germany, Netherlands, France and Belgium respectively.
However, the EU’s Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard put a positive spin on the situation, referring to the fact that other nations publicly opposed to the EU scheme had complied with the regulations.
“I am very glad to announce here today, that there has been a very, very high level of compliance,” she told reporters. “All EU airlines and nearly all non-EU airlines have reported their 2011 emissions. This includes all airlines from countries such as the United States, Canada, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Qatar, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.”
That the CAs all sent out their letters today with the June 15 deadline suggests joint consultations and agreement at Commission level but a spokesman for Hedegaard told GreenAir that it was up to EU member states to apply penalties as they saw fit in the case of the new deadline being missed.
“The Commission is working closely with member state competent authorities to ensure a coordinated and measured response to non-compliance during this pre-compliance period. But it will be the member states that administer the non-compliant airlines who will act according to their national legislations,” he said.
EU states have adopted different approaches to penalties for non-compliance. In the UK, for example, a civil penalty applies of £3,750 ($6,000) for missing the deadline and £375 per day thereafter, up to a maximum of £33,750 ($54,000). In theory, the authorities could seize the aircraft of non-compliant operators if other measures fail.
Announcing the emissions data for 2011 for the 12,000 power plants and installations covered by the EU ETS, Hedegaard said emissions decreased by more than 2% in the year. “This good result shows that the ETS is delivering cost-effective emissions reductions. It also emphasises why the ETS remains the engine to drive low-carbon growth in Europe.”
At an EU Council Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN) meeting today, finance ministers from EU member states met to discuss climate finance to support mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries, following decisions taken at the UNFCCC climate talks in Durban last November.
The ministers reiterated previous views that the carbon pricing of global aviation and maritime transportation would generate large financial flows as had been highlighted in reports for the G20 countries and the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing (AGF). They noted that finance from the auctioning of EU ETS aviation allowances could help support climate action in developing countries. However, it was stressed that it would be up to individual member states to determine the use of such revenues – a nod, it would appear, to some EU countries, notably the UK, which have refused to ring-fence auction revenues for environmental purposes.
The acceleration of work by ICAO to further develop options for global market-based measures to address aviation emissions was welcomed, and the EU and its member states were encouraged to further engage “effectively” in ICAO and IMO (International Maritime Organisation) negotiations “to support carbon pricing schemes which primarily incentivise mitigation and also have the potential to generate revenue, and urges all Parties to IMO and ICAO to further increase their efforts to make progress on market-based mechanisms to address emissions from global aviation and maritime transportation.”
European Commission press release on EU ETS annual compliance round-up
EU Council meeting conclusions on climate financing (pdf)
Update Wed 16 May 2012:
A third Indian airline, Kingfisher, is also understood not to have complied by the March 31 deadline, despite operating EU flights last year, but the carrier pulled out of European destinations at the beginning of 2012.
A spokesman for the US airline trade body A4A (formerly ATA) told GreenAir that despite its members continuing to comply with EU ETS regulations, it expects – along “with all non-EU nations of the world opposing the EU’s unilateral scheme” – the EU to “stay or withdraw the scheme in due course”.
He said the United States government was continuing to object to the application of the scheme to US airlines and was taking steps to see it overturned. A version of the legislation approved in the House of Representatives that would confirm US airlines should not be required to comply was now under consideration in the Senate, he added.
At a recent conference in Washington DC, A4A’s VP Environment, Nancy Young, called on the US government to invoke without delay an Article 84 dispute procedure at ICAO over the scheme. Julie Oettinger, Assistant Administrator for Policy, International Affairs and Environment at the FAA, responded that the government had yet to make a decision on the issue.
Update Fri 18 May 2012:
According to Russian online daily Kommersant, reported Bloomberg, Russian airlines have complied with EU requirements in submitting 2011 emissions reports by the March 31 deadline and are ready to buy the necessary permits to cover their 2012 shortfall. The Kommersant article (in Russian here) quotes a government official as saying Russia may stay out of the international dispute and act as an observer, said Bloomberg.
ATW quotes officials from the China Air Transport Association (CATA), who said the Chinese civil aviation authority (CAAC) was working on retaliatory counter-measures if Europe carried out any punishment as a result of the non-compliance by Chinese carriers. CATA Director General Wei Zhenzhong is quoted as saying China would prefer to rely on technological advancement and the promotion of biofuels to reduce carbon emissions. (ATW article here).
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