NGOs urge EU governments to take action over EU ETS enforcement against non-compliant foreign airlines
Fri 28 Feb 2014 – European environmental NGOs have formally requested German, Dutch and British authorities responsible for administering the Aviation EU ETS to take necessary action against airlines that failed to comply with the carbon scheme in 2012. The NGOs name airlines Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Air India, Jet Airways, Saudia and Aeroflot as not having submitted carbon permits to cover their intra-European flights that year by the 30 April 2013 deadline. Facing international opposition, the EU temporarily suspended a requirement for airlines to report emissions from intercontinental flights to and from Europe in 2012 under the ‘Stop the Clock’ derogation in order to allow progress towards an ICAO agreement on a global market-based measure. However, carriers regardless of nationality were still required to comply with the scheme for flights carried out within Europe. The NGOs point out that offenders gain a competitive advantage over compliant airlines if the regulations are not enforced equally and consistently.
The NGOs – Transport & Environment (T&E), Aviation Environment Federation, Natuur en Milieu and BUND – question whether a global plan will be agreed or if it is, whether it will have a meaningful impact, and say the European scheme is the only international measure in place to address aviation emissions. “It makes no sense and undermines the EU’s position internationally to enforce the ETS partially or in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner,” they said in a statement.
Added T&E’s Aviation Manager Bill Hemmings: “It’s scandalous that almost a year after foreign airlines failed to comply with the ETS, governments haven’t enforced the EU law. No enforcement means offenders gain a competitive advantage over those that did play by the rules and foreign governments receive a signal that complying with EU law is voluntary for foreigners. So EU countries must enforce compliance with the ETS in a consistent and fair manner, whether the operator concerned is a flag carrier of a state opposing the EU’s measure, a small regional operator or a business jet.”
EU politicians have voiced their own displeasure over those airlines that have refused to comply with the one-year intra-EEA scope of the EU ETS legislation. Negotiations are currently taking place between the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council, representing EU member states, over next steps for the scheme. The parties entered the trilogue discussions with different positions – member states wanting to continue with a modified ‘Stop the Clock’ scope and the Commission and Parliament pushing for a widening of the scope to include emissions from all flights taking place in EEA airspace.
Parliament representatives are keen to extract concessions in exchange for bowing to member state pressure. One such demand is that states take immediate action over all non-compliant aircraft operators, regardless of the political sensitivities of handing out penalties to the airlines of countries such as India and China, which have forbidden their carriers to comply with the scheme. The Parliament’s rapporteur on the legislation, German MEP Peter Liese, has threatened to derail the trilogue negotiations if EU states do not take sufficient steps on enforcement. The Commission has powers to take to court EU states that do not enforce compliance.
Last week the EU adminstering authorities, in a coordinated effort, are believed to have sent out enforcement notices to non-compliant offenders but have not disclosed to which airlines these notices were sent (see article).