EU scales back rules on carbon flight emissions

THE EU agreed to a deal late yesterday to scale back its law regulating carbon from flights as UN negotiators pledged to craft a global pact on aviation emissions that would not take effect for seven years.

EU officials agreed at UN talks in Montreal to only include emissions from flights over European airspace in the bloc’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), said the EU’s top climate official Jos Delbeke, a move that would scale down a law that covers all flights to and from Europe. The deal, which still needs to be signed off by a full meeting of the UN’s aviation body ICAO ending 4 October and by EU lawmakers, drew fire from green groups and sparked a renewed threat of legal action by European airlines.

“There are bits and pieces of that text that make everybody unhappy. So it’s maybe not too far away from an ideal compromise,” said Delbeke at an event at the EU Parliament in Brussels.

The deal falls short of the worldwide pact the EU had hoped for in November 2012 when it exempted foreign flights for one year to give ICAO more time to strike a global deal and avert a global trade war from major trading partners such as China, India, and the US that said the measure infringed on their sovereignty.

The agreement will force airlines to surrender more permits for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than the current temporary practice of regulating domestic EU flights, boosting permit demand to 80m to 2020 from 48m, Point Carbon analysts said this week.

Bill Hemmings from the environmental group T&E said the move was an “unnecessary concession” that had little to do with efforts to tackle climate change and did not amount to a guarantee that ICAO would tackle aviation emissions globally.