Climate Change – EU-Emission Trading System (EU-ETS)

Aviation is suspended from participating in the EU-ETS

Aviation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector and the most climate intensive form of transport. Aviation emissions have more than doubled in the last 20 years and the aviation sector accounts for 4.9 % of total worldwide emissions contributing to climate change while its contribution to global GDP is 0.7%1. This makes aviation seven times more climate intensive than average economic activities.

The necessity to combat the emission of greenhouse gases and climate change on a global level has been understood by the international community and was already expressed in 1997 in the Kyoto Protocol.

In the aftermath of the Kyoto Protocol the European Union initiated an EU-wide program to reduce emitted CO2 called the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS). Every emitter of CO2 whose business is subject to the EU-ETS (and/or the respective national laws implementing the ETS) has to acquire a certain number of emissions permits depending on the amount of CO2 emitted by its business during the previous year. A certain portion of such permits is allocated free of charge, additional permits have to be paid for.

From 1 January 2012 onwards aviation became part of the EU-ETS. However, parallel to the European Union subjecting aviation to the EU-ETS, ICAO made some progress regarding a worldwide scheme for aviation emissions trading. To facilitate those negotiations within ICAO the EU suspended the application of the EU-ETS in relation to flights outside the European Union departing from or arriving at a European airport for one year (i.e. during the year 2013, i.e. for the emissions of 2012). If ICAO fails to achieve a world-wide ETS scheme, the EU-ETS shall again be fully applicable to the aviation industry from January 2014 (unless suspended again).

Subjecting the aviation industry to the (EU-) ETS can only be a first small step to move towards a fairer system but it can in no way balance the environmental damages the aviation industry causes. Aviation has to be subjected to Energy Tax. To illustrate: If submitted to EU-ETS, aircraft fuel is “taxed” at an approximate rate of EUR 0.012/liter, whereas fuel for road transport is subject to Energy Tax at approximately EUR 0.48/liter. There is no justification for such an unbalanced approach!

Therefore we request the lifting of the suspension of EU-ETS for aviation as a first immediate step and to leave aviation within the EU-ETS until the full subjection of aviation fuel to Energy Tax.


1) The importance of the aviation industry for the global economy, Stephen Perkins, International Transport Forum, September 2010