Airlines must continue to contribute

Peter Liese: good basis for negotiations with the Parliament. Important to apply same reduction target as for other industries. European Parliament will continue to put pressure on flights to and from third countries. ICAO deal: important step but falls short of efforts made by other sectors and the ambition of the Paris agreement

“The proposal is a solid basis for discussion in the Parliament, but we will examine it very closely and we will, in particular, continue to press for ambitious climate protection for intercontinental flights," said the environmental spokesman of the largest group in the European Parliament (EPP Christian Democrats) Peter Liese on the occasion of today’s Commission proposal about the further inclusion of aviation in the EU emission trading system (ETS).

The Commission proposes that flights within the European Union should continue to be included in the EU ETS. The proposal also envisages a tightening of the cap after 2021 for the aviation sector. So far, the cap was only 5%, whereas other industry sectors had to reduce their emissions by 21%. From 2021, the same linear reduction factor should be applied for aviation as for all other industries. “I very much welcome this part of the proposal and I will fully support its adoption in Parliament. The current system was unfair compared to other industries such as the steel industry, where many people are worried about their jobs. How can you tell a steelworker that his company has to meet high climate protection requirements, while other economic sectors do practically nothing?”, he said.

“Equal treatment is also important in view of other modes of transport. The railways use electricity and are therefore almost 100% dependent on emissions trading. This is why I welcome the cap”, said the MEP.

Liese considers the rules proposed by the Commission for flights to third countries as problematic: “The Commission proposes today that intercontinental flights shall continue to go unregulated in the EU emissions trading system (ETS) on a permanent basis. Under the current legal regulation, airlines will have to surrender allowances for intercontinental flights from the next year onwards. Although there is now a decision by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to introduce a climate protection instrument for aviation, it is by no means ambitious and raises many questions. It falls short of other sector’s efforts and the ambition of the Paris agreement. In contrast to other sectors, ICAO only aims at stabilizing CO2 emissions, not reducing them. The envisaged climate protection projects (offsets) are controversial and it is not clear if they are effective at all. They can even damage the climate. The ICAO is more or less binding only from 2027 onwards. I therefore propose a compromise. We should continue to exclude intercontinental flights until 2021 but then include them again in the EU ETS, if the ICAO rules are not very clear. We should, in particular, include flights to countries that, like Russia, refuse to join the ICAO agreement. This may cause some trouble with Russia and eventually with the US, but it is legally possible. Neither Putin nor Trump should decide which rules should be applied for aircrafts landing and starting in Europe", said Liese, who has been the rapporteur for the issue three times in the past.