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Deadline approaches for aviation ETS agreement

23rd May, 2008

In December 2006 the European Commission proposed a Directive for inclusion of aviation in the European Emissions Trading Scheme – the EU ETS. Since then, discussions have taken place in the European Parliament (made up of MEPs) and at the Council (made up of ministers from all the member states of the European Union).

Both of these bodies support implementation of the scheme, but they disagree in a number of key areas about its design. For the Directive to come into force, they will need to come to a common position on issues such as when the scheme will start, what proportion of emissions allowances will be allocated for free (as opposed to being sold by auction), and whether a ‘multiplier’ of two should be applied to aviation (requiring the sector to purchase 2 allowances for every 1 tonne of CO2 emitted) to account for the additional warming effect of emissions at altitude. The Council is due to reach a second reading agreement in June or July and the Parliament will then hold its second plenary vote.

AEF has been campaigning as part of a coalition of NGOs to try to make the scheme is as effective as possible in tackling aviation emissions. While we do not believe that the emissions trading scheme alone can resolve the problem of aviation’s rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions (and certainly cannot solve the problems of noise and local air quality), we do believe it could be a useful first step in bringing aviation closer into line with European carbon reduction targets. We are concerned, however, that the Council’s latest proposal would create a scheme that was so weak as to have little, if any, effect.

AEF has produced a summary of the different positions advocated by the (1) European Commission, (2) the Environment Committee of the Parliament, (3) the Parliament itself, (4) the Council, and (5) the NGO coalition. The most recent NGO position paper details the improvements we would like to see in the scheme.

Friends of the Earth, one of our partners in the NGO coalition, has set up an online email action allowing you to contact your MEP and ask them to help improve the effectiveness of the ETS: