Since 1997, ICAO, the UN organization for air travel has dragged its feet to implement binding climate targets (learn more). For many years, the European Union had signalled to the international community that it would place unilateral restrictions on aviation emissions if ICAO would not take stronger action and commit to a plan to reduce aviation emissions. After slow progress under ICAO to agree on binding targets to reduce aviation emissions, the EU decided that starting from 2012 all flights arriving to and flying from the EU would have to account for their emissions and be included in its cap-and-trade scheme (EU-ETS).
The EU’s decision prompted very strong reaction, in particular from China, India and the US. The EU was accused that its unilateral approach would spark a trade war and infringe on national sovereignty.
In April 2013, after months of tense negotiations and lawsuits, the EU gave in to mounting pressures and deferred the inclusion of international flights in the ETS by one year through the so called ‘stop the clock’ derogation, a partial revocation of the law, which temporarily halted the inclusion of intercontinental flights in the EU-ETS throughout 2013. (Flights within Europe were not affected and remain covered under the EU-ETS.)
In September 2013 the ICAO council decided to consider developing market-based measures (MBM) for the CO2 emission from international flights. Such a global MBM would start after 2020. In 2016, at the next ICAO assembly, countries will decide if such a global MBM will be established for post 2020.
Following that decision, the EU decided in the spring of 2014 to extend its stop the clock derogation until after the next ICAO assembly in 2016 and stated that a global approach remained the EU’s preferred option.
Carbon Market Watch call on the EU has to include all flights to and from Europe in its EU-ETS if in 2016 ICAO does not agree to establish an ambitious global MBM together with an ambitious set of technological and operational climate targets.