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CO2: MEPs want ETS exception for intercontinental flights and progress in ICAO

ENVI Press release - Environment26-02-2013 - 16:12

A proposal temporarily to suspend the EU CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for intercontinental flights, so as to enable International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to agree worldwide measures, was backed by the Environment Committee on Tuesday. MEPs stressed that this exception to the ETS is conditional upon progress at the ICAO and earmarked ETS revenues for efforts to tackle climate change. The ETS will continue to apply to flights between EU airports.

"Today's vote is a clear signal that the European Union wants an international solution. There are no more excuses for third countries not to engage in the issue. Third countries have given the impression that it is the European Union that stands in the way, but we shall see if they have enough commitment. I appeal especially to US President Obama, who has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize inter alia for his commitment to tackle climate change and to State Secretary Kerry who introduced the Kerry-Lieberman bill in the Senate which paved the way for emissions trading for the US economy including aviation. They could lose all the credibility if they continue opposing a solution in this important area", said rapporteur Peter Liese (EPP, DE).

The "stop the clock" proposal would temporarily exempt airlines from the ETS requirement to report carbon emissions for  flights between EU airports and third countries, and sanctions would not be imposed for failure to report.

In their amendments, MEPs say that the exception made for intercontinental flights should apply for a maximum of one year, which could be prolonged only if « clear and sufficient » progress is made within the ICAO. Meanwhile, the Montreal-based ICAO should agree on a global system instead, with a realistic timetable for applying it, they add.

Moreover, to build international confidence in the EU ETS, EU member states should use revenue from auctioning  allowances to cut CO2 emissions, adapt to the effects of climate change, and fund research and low-emission transport schemes, MEPs say.

Towards bluer skies at the ICAO?

Politically,  the proposal aims to create an incentive  for this year’s ICAO meeting to agree on a global mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation and demonstrate the EU’s determination to make it work.

ICAO parties made some progress towards agreeing on an equivalent to the EU ETS at a meeting on   9 November 2012, and MEPs believe that a global, market-based measure to reduce international aviation emissions could be agreed at the next ICAO assembly in September 2013.

The report drafted by Peter Liese (EPP, ED) was approved by 50 votes to 0, with 8 abstentions. The committee also voted to open negotiations with EU ministers, by 51 votes  to 2,  with 5 abstentions.

Next steps

The plenary vote is to be taken during the 15-18 April session in Strasbourg.

In the chair: Matthias Groote (S&D, DE)

REF. : 20130225IPR06039