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No more excuse towards a global measure to cut aviation’s emissions

The European Commission has announced today a deferral by one year, from 2012 to 2013, for flights from and to the EU to be included into the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) (see Commission press release).

A coalition of green NGOs thinks today’s concession is bigger than necessary, because it is more than commensurate with the limited progress made in last Friday’s ICAO Council meeting towards a global market-based mechanism (MBM) to address greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation. The environmental groups say no excuse is left for ICAO to come up with a concrete and global measure at its triennial assembly in September-October 2013.

“Opponents of the inclusion of international flights in the EU ETS have always said that a global solution under ICAO is the way to go. Now it is time for them to stop blaming the EU for blocking a world-wide approach and put their money where their mouth is”, says Bill Hemmings, T&E programme manager for international transport.

The EU has stopped its clock, but the clock for ICAO and the climate is still ticking. The Commission, with today’s decision, has moved further than necessary given the little progress made so far at ICAO level. There is no excuse for inaction left”, Hemmings added.

“Obama has finally the chance to prove that he means what he said on climate change in his victory speech. The US ambassador said the US could not talk with ‘the threat of the ETS hanging over everybody’s head’; if today’s move still does not clear the sky, we don’t know what would”, Hemmings concluded.

Tim Johnson, director of Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) said “The Commission’s plan still has to be agreed by member states and the European Parliament. Given the huge majority of MEPs that voted in favour of the legislation, we would expect the Parliament to confirm the importance of ICAO delivering a global MBM over the next 12 months”.

The formal proposal, which will likely be released in a few weeks, will allow airlines to surrender CO2 allowances by April 2014 and not by April 2013, as originally foreseen.

MEPs and EU Ministers will have to vote on this revision in what has known as co-decision procedure, before it’s officially adopted.