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European Parliament backs stricter aviation pollution rules

BRUSSELS 13 September 2017. Today, the European Parliament adopted its position on aviation’s role under the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). Lawmakers agreed to continue the exclusion of international flights from the EU ETS until 2021 but took steps to ensure that the sector will have to reduce and pay more for its soaring emissions.

Decision makers backed the Parliament’s environment committee position adopted in July.

They voted to continue the exclusion of flights to-and-from Europe while the rules for a global aviation deal adopted last year are being drafted. However, they want to limit the exclusion to January 2021 when the global measure will enter into force.

In another welcome move, the Parliament supported the Commission’s proposal to introduce a declining cap for aviation emissions from 2021 and proposed to increase the share of auctioning from 15% to 50%, earmarking all revenues for financing climate related projects.

Kelsey Perlman, Policy Officer for Aviation at Carbon Market Watch said:

“So far, aviation has been given special treatment, and its pollution is increasing at an alarming rate. Today, EU lawmakers took a welcome step towards levelling the playing field with other modes of transport and signalled that an ineffective international deal will not replace European climate action.” 

The proposed measures are, however, not enough to rein in the sector’s emissions which could grow by 300% over the next 30 years.

Kelsey Perlman concluded:

“To bring aviation in line with the Paris Agreement climate goals, we need a robust carbon price to incentivise efficiency and a shift to more sustainable transport modes. This means full auctioning and an end to subsidies, tax exemptions, and generous state aid.”

Informal negotiations between the EU Member States and the Parliament will start on 25th of September. They must agree on the law by April 2018 when airlines need to surrender allowances to cover their emissions in 2017.



Kelsey Perlman, Policy Officer – Aviation
+32 487 13 02 80
[email protected]

Kaisa Amaral, Press Officer
+32 485 07 68 90
[email protected]

Notes to editor:

In February, the European Commission proposed to continue to exempt international aviation from paying for its emissions under the EU’s carbon market rules in response to a global offsetting deal reached at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) last year. The EU Member States support the Commission proposal, having adopted their position in June.

The position adopted today by the European Parliament includes the following elements:

  • Stop the clock reinstated: The exclusion of international flights is not indefinite, but only until the end of 2020 and subject to a review
  • An annually declining cap, the so called Linear Reduction Factor applied for aviation from 2021
  • Auctioning increased to 50% and all revenues earmarked for climate finance
  • Addition of a more detailed review examining the ambition, transparency and overall environmental integrity of the global deal and a report on how the EU could implement the international agreement through a revision of the EU ETS

Aviation accounts for approximately 2.1 % of global greenhouse gas emissions. With the anticipated growth in air traffic, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) projects the emissions in 2050 to be seven to ten times higher than in 1990. In the EU, emissions from aviation account for about 3 % of total emissions.

Policy brief:  Addressing aviation emissions under the EU Emissions Trading System


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