Brussels/Strasbourg, 8 July 2008
The European Commission welcomes the European Parliament's second reading vote today in favour of including aviation in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). The vote confirms the agreement reached between the Parliament and the Council last month. Under the new directive greenhouse gas emissions from flights to, from and within the EU will be included in the EU ETS from 2012. All airlines will be covered whatever their nationality. Like the industrial companies already covered by the EU ETS, airlines will be able to sell surplus allowances if they reduce their emissions and will need to buy additional allowances if their emissions grow.
Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "Greenhouse gas emissions from international air transport are increasing faster than from any other sector in the EU, and this growth threatens to undermine our overall progress in cutting emissions. This agreement will enable the aviation sector to make a fair contribution to Europe's climate change targets as many other sectors are already doing. It is a significant step forward which underlines to our partners once again the EU's commitment to implementing the concrete measures needed to reduce emissions. It also augurs well for agreement later this year on the Commission's January 2008 climate and energy package."
The directive is part of a comprehensive approach to addressing aviation emissions, which also includes more research into greener technologies (IP/05/1192) and improvements in air traffic management through the creation of a 'Single European Sky' (IP/08/1002). A proposal to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from aircraft is included in the Commission's work programme for this year.
The agreement reached between Parliament and Council endorses the key elements of the Commission's original proposal from December 2006 (see IP/06/1862 and MEMO/06/506). As well as some technical improvements, there are some key changes from the Commission's original proposal:
The Council is expected to give formal approval to the directive at one of its next meetings. Once formally adopted, the directive will be published in the Official Journal and will enter into force the same day. Member States will then have 12 months to transpose it into national legislation.
Emissions from domestic flights are covered by the Kyoto Protocol's targets for limiting or reducing national emissions, but international aviation is not. Moreover, historically jet fuel for international flights has been tax-exempt.
Emissions from aviation currently account for about 3% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions, but they are increasing fast – by 87% since 1990. Someone flying from London to New York and back, for example, generates roughly the same amount of emissions as the average person in the EU does by heating their home for a whole year.
On current trends, aviation emissions are likely to more than double from present levels by 2020. This rapid growth contrasts with the success of many other sectors of the economy in reducing emissions.
The March 2007 European Council committed the EU to cutting its emissions by at least 20% of 1990 levels by 2020, and by up to 30% provided other developed countries commit to comparable reductions. The Commission's January 2008 package of climate and energy proposals, now under discussion in the European Parliament and Council, puts in place key measures to deliver on these commitments, to improve the EU's energy security and to strengthen competitiveness (see IP/08/80).
DG ENV climate change website: