EU to Limit Aviation Carbon Cuts as ICAO Studies Global Plan

The European Union agreed to limit the scope of its carbon curbs on airlines as the United Nations aviation panel’s council pledged to work on a global plan to cut pollution from the industry beginning in 2020.

The International Civil Aviation Organization’s Council agreed today to have tools in place by 2016 needed to develop a global market-based measure to reduce greenhouse gases, according to Jos Delbeke, director general for climate at the European Commission. The outcome is weaker than what was sought by the 28-nation EU, whose move to include international flights in its carbon market as of last year sparked opposition by countries including the U.S. and Russia.

“There are some bits and pieces in the text that made everybody unhappy,” Delbeke told a conference in Brussels today. “So it may be not far away from an ideal compromise.”

The deal is subject to approval by the ICAO general assembly from Sept. 24 to Oct. 4 in Montreal. The Council, which includes 36 member states of the organization, agreed that the existing emissions trading system may cover airlines in regional airspace until a global system replaces it.

“That means that the EU ETS will be able to continue for intra-European flights,” Delbeke said. “We would also have this part of international flights that is covered by regional airspace.”

The EU agreed last year to suspend emissions trading obligations on flights into and out of Europe. Any extension of the rule or a change to the bloc’s carbon trading law would require approval by member states and the European Parliament.

“We will have a controversial debate in the Parliament,” said Peter Liese, a German member of the assembly. “We need to look carefully at what kind of legislation we can have.”

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