Aviation emissions: MEPs back ETS exemption for international flights

MEPs want to limit the duration of the exemption to 31 December 2020, however. From 2021 onwards, the aviation sector should receive only half of its ETS allowances for free, say MEPs, against 85% today.

The environment committee also wants EU member states to earmark the revenue generated by the auctioning of emissions allowances for climate change policies.

The European Commission will have to report on the setting up of the Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)’s global scheme and if necessary, propose to amend, delete or extend the exemption.


"It is sensible that we extend the exemption for international flights to and from the EU until there is greater clarity on the ICAO scheme. However, unlike the European Commission, I believe this exemption must be time limited so that we can be sure that the CORSIA will deliver its objectives” said lead MEP Julie Girling (ECR, UK).
“Aviation contributes 1.3% of global CO2 emissions and that will increase significantly over the coming decades unless effective action is taken. The EU is already leading the way on tackling this issue and we must not let the pace slacken. As the rapporteur for EU ETS phase IV, I am well aware of the need for the aviation sector to do its fair share for emissions reduction” she added.

Next steps

The legislative proposal with amendments was adopted by 57 votes in favour and 3 against with 6 abstentions. It will be put to a vote by the full House during the September plenary session in Strasbourg.

Quick facts

Aviation accounts for approximately 2.1% of global CO2 emissions. International flights account for around 1.3% of emissions. With the anticipated growth in air traffic, emissions in 2050 are expected to be seven to ten times higher than in 1990, according to ICAO projections. In the EU, direct CO2 emissions from aviation account for about 3% of total emissions.
The EU was the world’s first region to address CO2 emissions from international aviation, by including aviation in the EU ETS, with effect from 1 January 2012. However, the United States and other nations opposed the inclusion of extra-EEA flights in the EU ETS.
The application of the ETS to such flights was temporarily suspended, until the end of 2016, to allow for the development of emission-reduction measures with a global scope by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and to avoid conflicts with international trading partners.
In October 2016, ICAO adopted a global market-based measure (GMBM), which would become operational in 2021. In February 2017, the European Commission proposed a regulation to prolong the derogation for extra-EEA flights, gradually reduce the number of aviation allowances from 2021 onwards, and prepare for the implementation of the GMBM.

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