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European Commission proposal: limit aviation in the EU ETS to regional airspace

The European Commission announced on Wednesday its proposal that only aviation emissions that fall within the EU’s airspace should be included in the region’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). This follows the recent outcome at the ICAO Assembly which had huge implications for regional schemes while making limited progress towards a global deal.

The proposed changes to the EU ETS would reduce coverage of the scheme by 65% from its original form. The new proposal means the scheme would extend only 12 nm (nautical miles) from EU/EEA states (see below map) and, if adopted, will be introduced from January 2014. The proposal also incorporates the 1% de minimus clause suggested in the ICAO Resolution which would mean that routes to around 80 developing countries whose share of international aviation activity is less than 1% will be excluded from the scheme.

EU ETS Airspace coverage1 Source: European Commission

The proposal does go further than provisions in the Assembly Resolution which urged regional schemes to gain the mutual agreement of third countries before their airlines could be included in any scheme. The EU argues that it is able to go beyond the Resolution because under the Chicago Convention countries have sovereignty over their airspace and can act accordingly.

AEF’s view, outlined in a guest article for Carbon Market Europe, is that the EU’s proposed concession to move to regional airspace means a huge loss of emissions coverage.  However, by going beyond the ICAO Resolution, the EU still demonstrates some leadership on climate action. All states must now focus on working towards a decision in 2016 at the next ICAO Assembly on a global market based measure.

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