26th Oct 2016

EU airlines could face CO2 trading regime

The European Commission is set to propose on Tuesday (27 September) that airlines should be included in the EU's carbon dioxide, (CO2) reduction programme.

The move might see airlines obliged to eventually take part in the bloc's carbon dioxide emissions trading scheme, which started up at the beginning of this year.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Under the scheme, airlines would have to fall in line with quotas on carbon emissions that would be lower than their current discharges.

If a given airline brought its emissions below the quota level, it could then sell its credits to quota-busting polluters, who would be obliged to buy "emissions certificates" under the new proposals.

The emissions trading mechanism is designed to create an industry-wide net effect of quota compliance, but could see consumers paying up to €9 per airplane ticket more than today.

Brussels' aviation plan would bring the sector in line with around 10,000 CO2-emitting firms in other industry areas, which have already been trading credits since January.

The whole emissions market initiative comes in response to fears that the EU will not meet its commitments under the international Kyoto climate change treaty.

Airlines lukewarm

The airline industry has reacted cautiously so far, with Lufthansa recently calling for the scheme to be applied globally and not just in the EU.

The German carrier added in a position paper that "emission trading must not be allowed to distort competition or create additional burdens for Europe's airline industry".

The first criterion hits upon a contentious issue in the proposal - it is not clear whether transatlantic flights would be affected by the scheme.

There is also concern about the timing of the move.

According to a commission official, EU environment head Stavros Dimas would like to put forward a directive next year.

This would mean that the law could come into force by about 2009, far too early for companies to get ready for adoption, the industry says.

Environment groups have also reacted negatively.

Jos Dings from the European Federation for Transport and Environment said the initiative was only a "modest first step" and called for it to be turned into a directive with real bite by next year.

He says one of the main problems is that the proposal only includes CO2 emissions whereas the "climate impact of aviation is much greater than CO2 alone".

Putting economics before the environment

Environment groups are also concerned that the current commission is putting money before the environment.

"It is clear that under this commission, the priority has really shifted to the economic arm of the Lisbon Agenda", said Mr Jos, who added that environment and economic protection can go hand-in-hand.

His words come as the commission watered down its plans to improve air quality last week.

The EU is also in the process of reducing the scope of its chemicals legisation - known as REACH - for the testing of harmful chemicals in everyday goods.


Europe ready to tackle Greek debt relief

The Greek government has built and broadened alliances in EU institutions and member-states that acknowledge the need to restructure the debt and deliver another economic model for the eurozone.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  7. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  8. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  9. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  10. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  11. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersFish Skin on Bare Skin: Turning Fish Waste into Sustainable Fashion