EU politicians say ICAO carbon offsetting scheme lacks ambition and will push for reforms to Aviation EU ETS
Mon 21 Nov 2016 – The head of the European Parliament delegation to COP22 in Marrakech said action to address growing CO2 emissions by the international aviation and shipping sectors was insufficient and could jeopardise action elsewhere to meet global climate targets. Giovanni La Via, who is chair of the Parliament’s environment committee, said the two sectors could represent up to 40% of all global emissions by 2050 if they were not regulated. The European Commission will soon be publishing its proposals on the future direction of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) for aviation from 2017 and MEPs are looking to tighten the rules. Elsewhere at COP22, which finished on Friday, ICAO Secretary General Dr Fang Liu praised Europe’s leadership and contribution in the agreement reached at last month’s Assembly on the global market-based measure.
Although welcoming the agreement, La Via told a press conference the CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme “fell short of ambition”. He noted the exemption of extra-EU flights expired at the end of this year and Parliament and the EU Council, which represents member states, would soon be discussing “further steps on this topic”.
The decision, known as ‘Stop the Clock’, was enacted in 2014 to limit the scope of the scheme to flights to and from airports within the European Economic Area (EU plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) pending the outcome of ICAO negotiations on a global market-based measure. The temporary legislation ends on December 31. Without new legislation, the scope automatically ‘snaps back’ to the original scope under which all flights to and from the EEA would be included in the scheme from 2017.
Most believe the clock will be stopped once again, at least until CORSIA is up and running from 2021. However, a number of MEPs that have followed the issue are looking to tighten the EU scheme.
According to online news publication Carbon Pulse, some MEPs from across the political divide want to cut heavily the number of free carbon allowances aircraft operators receive under the EU ETS and transfer them to other industrial sectors. Other suggestions have included reducing the aviation emissions cap, which is currently flatlined up to 2021, to be more in line with reductions expected from the other sectors. The Parliament’s rapporteur on the Aviation EU ETS, Peter Liese, would also like to see all flights to and from third countries that do not sign up for CORSIA’s pilot and voluntary phases, which run from 2021 to 2026, included in the new EU ETS legislation.
Sharing the platform with La Via at the COP press conference, EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said he welcomed the ICAO CORSIA resolution, but noted: “This is an important first step towards more meaningful mitigation action for this sector on its steeply increasing emissions.”
He confirmed the European Commission would shortly be issuing its own proposals on the scope of the Aviation EU ETS. “We need this legislation to go quickly so it can be implemented by early 2018 in time for the 2017 compliance cycle and we look for support from the Parliament and Council for a speedy agreement.”
Asked at another COP press conference for her reaction to MEP comments on CORSIA and the EU ETS, ICAO Secretary General Dr Fang Liu said it was normal for there to be different opinions on the Assembly outcome but Europe’s leadership in the negotiations had been an important contribution. She said CORSIA was concerned with international rather than domestic aviation emissions, which were addressed through the Paris Agreement. “It’s the prerogative of countries to deal with their own national regulations but it is important to keep in mind that aviation is a global system that needs functioning at a global level,” she said.
Referring to the issue of climate finance for developing countries, an important area of discussion at COP22, Dr Liu said ICAO and its member states had at the Assembly made a clear concern to the UNFCCC process over the disproportionate use of international aviation as a potential source of revenue.
In its customary submission to the session of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) held during the COP, ICAO said it would “continue to take the lead in the efforts to reduce CO2 emissions from international aviation.”