The European Commission (EC) has backed down in the face of mounting political pressure, announcing that it will suspend its requirement for non-European Union aircraft operators to comply with its emissions trading scheme (ETS).
In an announcement yesterday, climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard said the application of ETS to flights in and out of the European Union will be delayed for 12 months, pending an anticipated agreement on a multilateral global alternative scheme being agreed by the ICAO Assembly in September/October next year. On Friday, the ICAO Council agreed to push for an alternative market-based mechanism to be applied by all of its member states. For now, however, EU-ETS will still apply for flights within Europe.
The European Business Aviation Association welcomed the EC policy U-turn, which technically still has to be endorsed by all 27 EU member states. However, it expressed regret that the EC did not suspend EU-ETS for intra-European flights and concluded, “It remains to be seen how this change will affect smaller European operators who bear the brunt of administrative costs, as these will again augment considerably.”
The EC’s climate change directorate said it will provide further details on the full implications of ETS suspension but, at press time, this information had not been posted online.