EU agrees to extend exemption for international flights from paying for carbon emissions


The EU Committee on the Environment has voted in favour of excluding international flights from paying for carbon emissions.

Members of European Parliament (MEPs) want to restrict this exemption to 31 December 2020.

This extension comes only as the EU awaits the implementation of United Nations' agreement on addressing aircraft emissions, reported Reuters.

MEPs want the aviation sector to receive only half of its emissions trading system (ETS) allowances for free from 2021 as opposed to the current 85%.

The panel has urged member states to channelise the revenue derived through the auctioning of emissions allowances towards climate change policies.

“It is sensible that we extend the exemption for international flights to and from the EU until there is greater clarity on the ICAO scheme."

The European Commission (EC) will be required to report on the establishment of the Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) global carbon emission scheme, besides proposing to amend, delete or extend the exemption.

Earlier this year, the EC proposed the extension of exempting international flights from buying credits as per ETS for an indefinite period, following the signing of a deal by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) last October on a market-based measure to reduce airline emissions.

Carriers operating flights out of EU were ordered to buy credits under ETS in 2012 but later retracted its stance after countries raised objections, stating that it violated their sovereignty. China also threatened to cancel its aircraft orders with Airbus Group if its flights were compelled to buy credits.

Until the beginning of this year, international flights were exempted from buying credits in order to enable ICAO to gain time to bring all the stakeholders on board for a global agreement.

Members of European Parliament lead Julie Girling said: “It is sensible that we extend the exemption for international flights to and from the EU until there is greater clarity on the ICAO scheme.

“However, unlike the European Commission, I believe this exemption must be time limited so that we can be sure that the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) will deliver its objectives.”

Before making a law on extending the exemption, the European Parliament must have to arrive at a consensus with member states in the EU Council, which supported the EC's plan for an indefinite extension.

Environmental campaigners and MEPs have criticised the ICAO deal, stating that it does not sufficiently reduce carbon emissions.

Aviation industry currently contributes to around 2.1 % of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. According to ICAO, the emissions are expected to be seven to ten times higher in 2050 than the levels recorded in 1990.