ETS: Aviation deal puts pressure on ICAO to deliver real climate benefits

airplane drawn in clouds with word CO2

Greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation make a significant contribution to global climate change and its emissions and are one of the fastest growing sources of CO2. Reducing aviation climate impact will be crucial if we are to meet our commitment under the Paris Agreement.
 
The European Union tried to reduce these emissions by including the aviation sector under its EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). However, international flights leaving the EU were exempted pending work on an international scheme in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). An agreement was reached in the ICAO to establish a global offsetting scheme (CORSIA) that will commit participants to carbon neutral growth above 2020 emission levels. However, serious questions remain over its environmental integrity.
 
Today the European Parliament will vote on an agreement that extends the so-called 'stop the clock' exemption for international flights but limits it to 2023, pending a Commission review into CORSIA*. It also includes measures to protect the integrity of the EU ETS in case of a hard Brexit.
 
S&D spokesperson on aviation ETS, Seb Dance MEP, said:

"An indefinite exemption for international flights – as proposed by the Council and Commission - would have given a blank cheque to ICAO and a reckless move given how little we know about how CORSIA will operate. By putting a time limit on this exemption, Europe now has a leverage to push for a more ambitious international scheme and make aviation contribute to tackling climate change. If CORSIA does not deliver then the EU must be willing to put international flights back under the ETS.
 
"It is essential that ICAO and the Commission commit to full transparency as the rules for CORSIA are developed. It is concerning that ICAO continues to make decisions with a lack of public scrutiny that has allowed it to develop and water down climate policy in isolation.
 
"The UK has always been a strong advocate of the EU ETS and climate action in general and a rational government would commit to remaining part of the world's largest carbon market. Its failure to do so is causing uncertainty and instability for industry."
 
* Note to the editors

CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) is a carbon offsetting scheme that calls on airlines to buy offset credits for a portion of pollution above 2020 levels to compensate for part of future growth. The scheme will start in 2021 but is not mandatory until 2027. Unlike the ETS, the measure does not promote emission reductions, as its ‘aspirational goal’ is only that of ‘carbon neutral growth from 2020 levels’ allowing unlimited growth in the sector and leaving emissions below 2020 levels completely unaddressed.