Today in the European Parliament MEPs debated the Commission’s proposal to further extend the partial exclusion of the aviation sector from the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).

Only flights inside the European Economic Area (EEA) have taken part in the carbon-reducing scheme due to objections from third-countries, chiefly from the US and China.

But since last year, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has agreed to address the growth in international aviation emissions through a global carbon offsetting system.

The extension is therefore seen as support for a global mechanism that is to come in place in 2020, according to GUE/NGL MEP Merja Kyllönen, who spoke at the plenary debate. She explained:

“I consider important that the limitation of scope for aviation in the EU emissions trading scheme, which currently only covers flights inside of Europe, is extended until 2020. If the limitation is not extended – therefore including flights from third-countries – it could hamper agreement on details for the implementation of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) during the upcoming negotiations at ICAO.”

“The most important aspects of the proposed global scheme should be clear by the end of 2018, after which the Commission and the Parliament should re-evaluate their position.”

The Finnish MEP called for good preparation and a strong EU position ahead of the next round of negotiations for a global scheme:

“The mechanism should be as broad as possible, non-discriminatory, environmentally and climatically effective and reflect the work done until now. Following the precedent of the Paris Accords, we need binding international commitments also for air transport.”

Czech MEP Kateřina Konečná criticised the lack of a ‘Plan B’ to tackle aviation emissions if a global solution fails:  

“Cutting emissions from aviation is one of the biggest challenges facing European environmental policy today. This is the fastest growing sector in terms of share of emissions, from 1.5 percent in 1990 to 4.5 percent in 2015.”

“The EU did not take the airline industry into account when developing an effective climate strategy and, moreover, tried to liberalise the sector as much as possible. How successful can EU policy be when it does not tackle such a major problem in a comprehensive way, but instead picking and choosing which problems it wishes to address?”

“If we do not act there is a risk for air traffic to grow 300 percent by 2050, putting at risk our commitments towards the Paris agreement,” Konečná concluded.  

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