EU ‘stops clock’ on airline emissions tax plans

Plans to force airlines to pay for their emissions for flights in and out of Europe have been put on hold by the European Union, it emerged today.

Last week the UN body, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) held discussions on a global approach for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from aviation and Brussels is giving the industry until their next meeting in a year’s time, to come up with a global scheme.

The climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said ” in a gesture of good faith” the EU “was willing to stop the clock on aviation in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) for flights into and out of Europe until after the ICAO General Assembly next autumn.”

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) claimed the ICAO had been “galvanised into action by the EU in the first place after years of foot-dragging on this issue.” However, it warned the ICAO members had to show leadership in demonstrating their commitment to tackling the climate impacts of flying.

Jason Anderson, head of European climate and energy policy, WWF European Policy Office said:

“Now it’s up to other countries who have been opposing action on tackling the climate impacts of aviation, especially the United States, to show that they are serious about pushing for a global solution. This is a great chance for ICAO members to show leadership and push a global agreement on this issue.”

Hedegaard warned that if the ICAO failed to reach a global deal, it would re-implement the plans to charge airlines for their emissions.

“If this exercise ends in nothing, we are back to exactly where we were with the EU ETS automatically,” she said.

She added: “The EU has always been very clear: nobody wants an international framework tackling CO2 emissions from aviation more than we do. 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.”

Conor McGlone

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