Under the deal struck with EU governments, emissions trading will apply to almost all flights into and out of the EU from 2012. The measures will enter into force after it they are rubber-stamped by ministers, expected later this year.
One exception is that small airline companies producing low emissions will be excluded, as will be emissions from light aircraft, and for research, emergency services, military, customs and humanitarian flights. Flights from countries outside the EU that have “equivalent” measures on aviation emissions will also be exempt.
Emissions from aircraft will be capped at 97% of 2004-06 levels in the first year, falling to 95% in subsequent years. 15% of carbon permits will be auctioned, with the remainder allocated freely.
A deal by EU environment ministers was agreed in December ENDS Report 396, pp 46-47. This was then passed to the European Parliament for approval. Following successful negotiations between MEPs and governments, details of the second-reading agreement emerged in June.
The deal has been welcomed by the European Commission. Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas described the agreement as “a significant step forward” and that it “augurs well for agreement later this year” on the European Commission's climate and energy package. A proposal from the Commission on regulating emissions of nitrogen oxides from aviation is expected later this year.
The aviation industry is split on emissions trading. British Airways says that a “well-designed emissions trading scheme is a cost-effective and environmentally beneficial policy instrument”.
Airlines from outside the EU claim that the rules contravene the sovereignty of national airspace, as established in the Chicago Convention, which regulates international air travel.
Following approval by EU government ministers, which is a formality, member states will have a year to transpose aviation emissions the new rules into national law.