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EU offers to confine ETS to European airspace

If approved, the scheme will limit to European airspace

The European Commission (EC) has proposed changes to its emission trading scheme (ETS) that would only charge for the part of flights that operate in European airspace.

If approved by the European Parliament and Council, new rules would come into effect on 1 January 2014 for international airlines, meaning the scheme will only cover emissions in flight sections that are in Europe, rather than the entire flight.

Emissions for flights between airports in the European Economic Area (EEA) will continue to pay under the scheme, which covers the 28 member states plus Norway and Iceland.

The EU will then revisit the legislation when a new global system comes into play in 2020, according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The EU ETS has been heavily criticised by airlines, with some airlines in Asia and North America previously refusing to pay the fees.

The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) raised concern over the EC proposals, saying the focus should remain on the ICAO global agreement.

“We view this development with concern.  The inclusion of international airlines without the consent of their respective governments is likely to meet with strong opposition, particularly from major developing countries.  This runs counter to the substance and spirit of the agreement reached earlier this month at the ICAO 38th Assembly,” said AAPA’s director general Andrew Herdman.

“We cannot afford to jeopardize the good progress that has been made in reaching a consensus on the development of a global market based measure (MBM) to be implemented by 2020.  That’s where our collective efforts should be focused,” he added.

Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, said: “In the light of the recent progress made at ICAO, not least thanks to Europe’s hard work and determination, the European Commission today has proposed to adjust the EU ETS so that emissions from the aviation sector would be covered for the part of flights that takes place in European regional airspace.

The European Union has reduced greenhouse gas emissions considerably, and all the economic sectors are contributing to these efforts. The aviation sector also has to contribute, as aviation emission are increasing fast – doubling since 1990. I am confident that the European Parliament and the Council will move swiftly and approve this proposal without delay. With this proposal, Europe is taking the responsibility to reduce emissions within its own airspace until the global measure begins.”