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European Parliament Votes to Include Aviation in European Trading System from 2012

The European Parliament adopted legislation on including aviation in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), with all flights starting and/or landing in Europe (including intercontinental flights) to be included in the ETS from 1 January 2012.

The reduction target is to be calculated on the basis of airlines’ average annual emissions between 2004-2006: in the first period (2012), airline emissions are to be cut by 3% based on an historic average; emissions will be reduced by 5% in 2013 compared to the historic average.

The main elements are as follows:

  • All flights starting and/or landing in Europe (including intercontinental flights) to be included in the ETS from 1 January 2012;

  • The EU to have an obligation to seek an agreement on global measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation. Bilateral agreements, for example with the US, could be a first step; and

  • 85% of the emissions certificates to be allocated for free according to a common European benchmark, with the remaining 15% to be auctioned.

The revenues generated from the auctioning of emissions allowances are to be used to fund climate change mitigation; research on clean aircraft; anti-deforestation measures in the developing world; and low-emission transport.

Exemptions include:

  • Light airplanes with a take-off weight under 5.7 tonnes;
  • Flights for humanitarian purposes under a UN mandate;
  • Fire-fighting and other emergency flights;
  • Police, customs and military flights;
  • Research flights; and
  • Small airline companies producing low emissions.

Flights performed exclusively for the transport, on official mission, of a reigning Monarch and his/her immediate family, Heads of State, Heads of Government and Government Ministers, of an EU Member State are included.

According to the European Commission’s impact assessment, fully passing on costs to customers would mean that by 2020 airline tickets for a return journey could increase by €4.6 to €39.6 (US$7.24 to US$62.29), depending on the journey length.

The vote was 640 votes in favor, 30 against and 20 abstentions.

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