Environment Committee confirms the need for global aviation emissions deal

Climate action

The European Parliament’s Environment Committee yesterday voted today for a one-year ‘stop the clock’ derogation from the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) for flights to and from Europe.

Environmental NGOs Transport & Environment (T&E), WWF, Germanwatch and Brot fuer die Welt think the ‘stop the clock’ concession is bigger than necessary given the limited progress made in the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), however the Parliament’s decision rightly increases pressure on ICAO to agree on a global deal to curb international aviation emissions. The Environment Committee’s vote also emphasises the fact that the EU’s emissions clock will start again if ICAO does not manage to agree on this long-awaited deal.

Commenting on the vote, Sam Van den plas, Climate Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office, said: “The Parliament’s Environment Committee has confirmed the political gesture of the ‘stop the clock’ proposal as a sign of goodwill. The fact that the clock will start again after a year affirms the need for ICAO to find a global solution – but time is running out for the climate. The full European Parliament and Member States must now uphold the EU’s determination to achieve a global aviation emissions solution.” 

Opponents of the inclusion of international flights in the EU ETS, mainly the US, India and Brazil, had previously blamed the EU for blocking a global approach under ICAO. According to these countries, the inclusion of all international flights to and from Europe in an EU emissions trading system was hindering a global deal. After a global market-based-measure (MBM) was already found to be technically feasible last year [2], the ‘stop the clock’ derogation removed any supposed roadblocks preventing a global solution from being implemented. ICAO set up a High-Level Group to propose a set of rules for countries to agree on when looking for global measures. This High-Level Group has, to date, achieved very little [3]. Their next meeting this March is an essential opportunity for the group to make progress on a MBM, which will then be put to the organisation’s triennial assembly in September-October 2013.

T&E policy officer for aviation, Aoife O’Leary, said: “ICAO’s sluggish progress on curbing aviation emissions is legendary. The ‘stopping of the clock’ removed any further excuses the Organisation may have had. ICAO must prove that it is serious about implementing a global aviation emissions solution, first in its High-Level Group meeting in March, and then at its triennial assembly later this year. The ball is in ICAO’s court, and if it fails, Europe has other options up its sleeve.”


Notes to editors:

1. Commission’s ‘Stop the Clock’ proposal: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-12-854_en.htm

2. T&E’s briefing: http://www.transportenvironment.org/publications/stop-clock-ets-aviation-derogation

3.  http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1620

4. http://www.transportenvironment.org/publications/icao-and-aviation-emissions-clock-ticking