Air transport performs many important functions in modern societies. Aviation facilitates economic and cultural exchanges and is a significant source of employment and growth in many regions. However, aviation also contributes to global climate change, and its contribution is increasing. While the EU's total greenhouse gas emissions fell by 3 % from 1990 to 2002, emissions from international aviation increased by almost 70 %. Even though there has been significant improvement in aircraft technology and operational efficiency this has not been enough to neutralise the effect of increased traffic, and the growth in emissions is likely to continue in the decades to come.
Commission proposal to include aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme
On 20th December 2006, the Commission adopted a proposal for legislation to include aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The proposal provides for aviation to be brought into the EU ETS in two steps. From the start of 2011, emissions from all domestic and international flights between EU airports will be covered. One year later, at the start of 2012, the scope will be expanded to cover emissions from all international flights – from or to anywhere in the world – that arrive at or depart from an EU airport. The intention is for the EU ETS to serve as a model for other countries considering similar national or regional schemes, and to link these to the EU scheme over time. Therefore, the EU ETS can form the basis for wider, global action.
Background to the proposal: Commission Communication, September 2005
On 27th September 2005, the Commission adopted a Communication (pdf ~225K) outlining plans to reduce the impact of aviation on climate change. The Communication recommends that aviation emissions should be included in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. This is part of a comprehensive approach which includes research into cleaner air transport, better air traffic management and the removal of legal barriers to taxing aircraft fuel.
The Commission invited feedback from the other institutions and set up an Aviation working group to consider the detailed design of the scheme. The Environment Council released supportive conclusions in December 2005 which also contained some preliminary guiding principles to be taken into account in the development of a Commission legislative proposal. In the European Council conclusions of 15/16 December, European heads of state and government also welcomed the Communication, recognised that the inclusion of the aviation sector in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme seems to be the best way forward, and welcomed the intention of the Commission to bring forward a legislative proposal by the end of 2006.
In April 2006, the European Economic and Social Commitee adopted an Opinion on the Communication .
On 4 July 2006, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution in response to the Commission's Communication.
The Aviation working group brought together experts from Member States and industry, consumer and environmental organisations. The group delivered its final report in April 2006. Click here for background documents and the minutes from working group meetings.
Study on aviation and emissions trading
Last update: 20/12/2006