ETS is still in full force for all flights between airports in the 27 European Union states, and also in the so-called European Economic Area (also including Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) as well as Switzerland and Croatia. The European Commission has made it clear that non-European operators will still be required to complete the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) process for carbon dioxide emissions from intra-European flights. They will also be required to submit carbon credits covering these emissions. Legal opinion seems to be in agreement that the new U.S. legislation barring U.S. operators from complying with ETS will not apply to flights within Europe.
Operators in the U.S. and other states outside Europe are wondering whether they should continue the MRV process for flights outside Europe in case ICAO fails to reach an agreement and the EU restores ETS in full toward the end of the year. The EC has confirmed that to be eligible for the suspension of ETS application any free carbon allowances granted to operators in respect of emissions logged in recent years for international flights to and from Europe will need to be returned to the EU member state handling each operator’s compliance.
According to ETS consultant Julien Dufour of France-based Verifavia, some operators based outside Europe may find that there is a business case for sticking to full ETS compliance voluntarily to benefit from their full allocation of free allowances. Verifavia and others are organizing a special Aviation Carbon 2013 conference on the future of ETS and prospects for a globally agreed alternative at London Heathrow Airport on February 19 and 20.