Climate Action

Commission proposes to 'stop the clock' on international aviation in the EU ETS pending 2013 ICAO General Assembly


The European Commission today proposed that the European Union defer the requirement for airlines to surrender emission allowances for flights into and out of Europe until after the 2013 International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) General Assembly next autumn. This initiative follows the very positive discussions that took place last week in the ICAO Council on a global market-based approach to regulating greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.

'Stopping the clock' on the implementation of the international aspects of aviation under the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS) means that the EU would not require allowances to be surrendered in April 2013 for emissions to and from the EU during 2012. The monitoring and reporting obligations will also be deferred for such flights. The obligations relating to all operators' activities within the EU will remain intact and compliance with the EU law will be enforced in this respect.

Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, said:

"The EU has always been very clear: nobody wants an international framework tackling CO2 emissions from aviation more than we do. Our EU legislation is not standing in the way of this. On the contrary, our regulatory scheme was adopted after having waited many years for ICAO to progress. Now it seems that because of some countries' dislike of our scheme many countries are prepared to move in ICAO, and even to move towards a Market Based Mechanism (MBM) at global level.

"Very good news came from the ICAO Council last Friday. I've just recommended in a telephone conference with the 27 Member States that the EU "stops the clock" when it comes to enforcement of the inclusion of aviation in the EU ETS to and from non-European countries until after the ICAO General Assembly next autumn."

Commissioner Hedegaard added:"Let me be very clear: if this exercise does not deliver – and I hope it does - then needless to say we are back to where we are today with the EU ETS. Automatically."  However, she called on all Parties to ICAO to engage urgently to take advantage of the window of opportunity that the EU was offering.

On 9 November, the ICAO Council had further discussions on a global approach for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from aviation. The ICAO Council decided to initiate a high-level political process to reduce the present three options for a regulatory market-based mechanism. In particular, the Council explicitly referred to the global MBM that the world now needs to agree.