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Aviation industry calls to replace EU ETS are premature

AEF, along with Carbon Market Watch and Transport & Environment, recently wrote to the European Commission to warn against any decision taken to exclude aviation from the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) before details of ICAO’s offsetting scheme (known as CORSIA) have been firmly established.

The EU ETS covers intra-EU flights and requires airlines to surrender sufficient carbon permits to cover their carbon emissions in the previous year. The aviation sector’s emission are capped under the ETS, with each airline receiving an initial allocation of permits free of charge. Airlines who exceed this allowance, can purchase additional permits from other airlines or from companies in other sectors who have surplus. CORSIA (Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation), a global market-based measure, was agreed in 2016 and its first phase is due to come into effect in 2021. Under CORSIA, operators will be expected to buy carbon credits equivalent to the additional carbon the sector emits above its 2020 level. Unlike the EU ETS, CORSIA will cover international flights globally, rather than just those operating within Europe.

The joint letter, which can be read here, responds to a call by industry bodies to “align” the EU ETS with CORSIA, with the hope that the former system will cease once CORSIA becomes operational in 2021. The call is premature and should be rejected outlines the NGO letter, “given CORSIA’s unresolved issues, its environmental weakness and lack of alignment with European climate ambition”.