EU MEPs call on US to support inclusion in Paris agreement of robust measures on aviation emissions
Christian Democrat MEP Peter Liese (left) and Social Democrat MEP Matthias Groote (right)
Wed 11 Nov 2015 – Two senior European MEPs, Matthias Groote and Peter Liese, have called on President Obama to change his administration’s approach to aviation and shipping emissions and support wording in the Paris agreement that requires the two sectors to do more in the fight against climate change. Unlike the many countries, large and small, that have submitted specific national pledges to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, UN agencies ICAO and IMO have exempted themselves from the process, they say, despite regulating international CO2 emissions comparable to those of large countries like Germany and the UK. They also criticise the US administration over its silence on the slow progress at ICAO in crafting a global measure to tackle aviation emissions. Liese and Groote played senior roles in the European Parliament’s environment committee in steering EU legislation on aviation’s inclusion into the EU ETS, facing stiff US opposition along the way.
Writing in US political publication The Hill, the two German lawmakers say ICAO “has little to show” 18 years on from being assigned by the Kyoto Protocol the task of limiting or reducing emissions from the sector it regulates.
“It has pledged to create a global scheme that will cap emissions at the wholly inadequate level of 2020, and even that objective will be met through offsets whose environmental integrity many would question,” argue Liese and Groote.
After facing the prospect of a damaging trade dispute with the US over the right of the EU to include international aviation in its emissions trading scheme (EU ETS), the EU had agreed to give ICAO three years to come up with a global solution, but time was now running out and it appeared little progress had been made, they noted. “Yet the Obama administration and US airlines are silent on this.”
The European Parliament recently passed a motion with bi-partisan support that an agreement at the Paris COP had to require both ICAO and IMO to establish ambitious targets and measures for their respective sectors. The two MEPs called on the Obama administration and US carriers to support such a provision.
The US, they suggest, should not fear that special privileges accorded developing countries would conflict with treating all airlines equally, as there were workable proposals in ICAO to address equity issues. The world has moved on and Paris represented a new era where all countries and all sectors recognised the need to act to avoid catastrophic global warming, they said.
Last year, the EU scaled back the scope of the EU ETS so that only emissions from flights between airports in the European Economic Area are included in the scheme. However, this revision automatically finishes at the end of 2016 and what happens afterwards to the scheme is dependent on the outcome at ICAO concerning the global market-based measure now in development. Liese, as the European Parliament’s rapporteur on this dossier, will be tasked with negotiating the next steps with fellow MEPs, the European Commission and EU member states. Groote was formerly Chair of the Parliament’s environment committee.