Wednesday

29th Sep 2021

MEPs vote to include airlines in emissions scheme earlier

MEPs are pushing to have airline companies take part in the EU's emissions trading system a year earlier than planned.

Following a vote in the European Parliament's environment committee on Tuesday (27 May), airlines would be obliged to be a part of the pollution-reducing scheme from 2011, with the sector having to pay for 25 percent of its permits to produce carbon dioxide in the first year and from 2013 falling into line with other sectors.

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  • Business planes are also to fall within the scheme (Photo: Adrian Pingstone)

The measures will apply to all aircraft taking off or landing in the 27-nation bloc. Business jets will also be included in the scope of the scheme but small aircraft will not.

"This vote demonstrates the parliament's determination to get tough with the aviation sector," said UK Green MEP Caroline Lucas following the vote, which passed with an overwhelming majority.

Under the original proposal by the commission, airlines would only have to take part in the emissions scheme from 2012.

German centre-right MEP Peter Liese, in charge of the dossier in parliament, said the parliament wants to be more "ambitious" than member states and that it wants to "do more for the environment."

The emissions trading scheme is seen as a cornerstone of the bloc's environment policy and key to achieving its headline goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

Futher wrangling to come

A final vote on the issue is expected in the parliament's plenary in July. However, there is likely to be a bit of a tussle between member states and MEPs in the run-up to the vote, with national governments having hoped for a much lower percentage of permits that are allocated through auctioning.

Member states suggested that only 10 percent of pollution permits should be auctioned.

Ms Jackson called on MEPs to not weaken the legislation in their push to reach a deal before summer.

"I will be urging colleagues to accept a compromise only if the Council [representing member states] makes significant moves towards the parliament's more climate-friendly position during the forthcoming negotiations," she said.

According to Mr Liese, other potential sticking points with member states include what to do with the revenue from the scheme - he is suggesting it boost more environmentally friendly public transport.

The agreed changes would likely amount to as much as €10 for flights within the EU and up to €40 on intercontinental flights.

The airline association, IACA, reacted with dismay to the vote.

"Voting for such a scheme in the context of today's high fuel prices and economic downturn is a sign of ignorance, or denial, of the economic realities facing airlines today," said IACA Director General Sylviane Lust.

It is particularly concerned the aviation sector will eventually be forced into 100 percent auctioning for pollution permits from 2013, something it has previously said would cost €15 billion annually.

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