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Wed, Nov 14, 2012

EU ETS On Hold For One Year

Delay Will Give ICAO An Opportunity To Craft International Standards

The European Union will delay the implementation of its Emissions Trading Scheme for non-European flagged airliners for a year, giving the ICAO an opportunity to craft an international plan that can be palatable to the rest of the world.

In a news conference held Monday, EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard said that based on the "encouraging results" of the ICAO Council meeting on November 9 ... and the constructive engagement of the EU's international partners in the relevant discussions ... "the EU is convinced that a global solution for addressing the fast growing aviation emissions from international aviation is within reach at the upcoming ICAO Assembly in 2013. As a gesture of good faith the EU will "stop the clock" on the implementation of the international aspects of its ETS aviation by deferring the obligation to surrender emissions allowances from air traffic to and from the EU by one year. This means that the EU would not require allowances to be surrendered in April 2013 for emissions from such flights during the whole of 2012. The monitoring and reporting obligations will also be deferred for such flights. The obligations relating to all operators' activities within EU will remain intact and compliance with the EU law will be enforced in this respect.

"The EU has always been very clear: nobody wants an international framework tackling CO2-emissions from aviation more than we do," Hedegaard said. "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."
Last Friday, the ICAO Council agreed to quickly set up a high-level policy group charged with reducing regulatory options for the MBM from three to one. The Council also agreed that there is an explicit reference to the global MBM on which the world now needs to agree.

"In short, finally we have a chance to get an international regulation on emissions from aviation. This is a long sought for opportunity that we must use. This is progress! But actually to get there, a lot of tough negotiations lie ahead of us," Hedegaard said.

Hedegaard said she 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. "Stopping the clock" creates space for the political negotiations and demonstrates confidence on the side of the EU that together with international partners we will succeed in ICAO to agree on meaningful international action. This means the ICAO process is allowed time until the 2013 Assembly in September/October next year and that no compliance will be expected as regards air traffic outside the EU in the interim. "But let me be very clear," she said. "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. It goes without saying that in the unlikely event of the ICAO Assembly failing to move forward the EU ETS legislation would be applied in full again from 2013 onwards."

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen (pictured) warmly greeted Hedegaard’s statement as a major step back from the brink of a looming trade conflict. “The international business aviation community is clearly committed to minimizing its environmental footprint,” Bolen said. “We believe this is a global issue that requires a global solution, not a unilateral solution imposed by some on others. NBAA appreciates Commissioner Hedegaard’s recognition of this fact and her decision to give ICAO an opportunity to create that global solution. NBAA looks forward to participating in the dialogue for developing effective emissions policies.”

In a news release, the EBAA said it was "optimistic" about the announcement, indicating that the move at least demonstrates the Commission's willingness to support the drafting of a global framework tackling CO2 emissions. It shows that Brussels has been listening to members of the business aviation community, alongside representatives from the global aviation industry, who have long argued that a comprehensive market-based mechanism (MBM) adopted worldwide would be much more meaningful against climate change.

"This decision will empower MBM negotiations as they advance. We are pleased that the Commission recognises the effectiveness of multilateral solutions over unilateral decisions," says Fabio Gamba, EBAA CEO, "and we only regret that this reasoning did not lead to the application of the same measure to intra-EU flights. A worldwide MBM would, after all apply universally. 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. In any case, as ICAO assembles a high level policy group to work on this important issue, EBAA, together with members of the global business aviation community, looks forward to contributing to the ultimate proposal."



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