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European Parliament votes to reduce emissions trading scheme to only cover european flights

4th April, 2014

The European Parliament has this week voted in favour of restricting the scope of the European Union’s emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) to intra-EU flights until 2017 (flights between destinations within the European Economic Area), effectively excluding long-haul flights.

The original legislation required all flights to and from EU airports to account for their emissions, but following strong international opposition from non-European governments and large parts of industry, the European Commission proposed an amendment last October to limit the coverage to emissions in EU airspace. This proposal led to negotiations with European member states and the European Parliament before it could become law.

During the negotiations, member states including France, Germany and the UK argued for a further reduction in scope, in effect an extension of the “Stop the Clock” policy, in the interests of trying to avoid further political tensions. But as set out in our joint letter with other European NGOs to relevant heads of state (sent in December 2013), this would both substantially reduce the environmental effectiveness of the scheme and undermine the principle that states have sovereignty over their airspace. We also urged European governments to enforce the aviation ETS for the stop-the-clock period in 2012.

The plenary vote by the full Parliament to restrict the aviation EU ETS went against a vote in March by the parliament’s environmental committee to ignore international pressure and reject the proposal. Changes to the EU ETS will be ratified and legislated shortly.

Image credit: Roo Reynolds via Flickr