Four major European low-cost carriers – easyJet, Ryanair, Jet2 and Wizz air have joined the Brussels-based NGO Transport and Environment (T&E) in calling for a reform of the EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). Specifically, the coalition is demanding that the EU ETS apply equally to all flights departing from or within the EU.
Under current rules, the EU ETS covers emissions from intra-EU flights, but exemptions are made for extra-EU flights. Indeed, according to the low-cost carriers and T&E, an estimated 60-75% of European aviation emissions are not covered by the ETS.
Consequently, intra-EU carriers, such as low-cost carriers, have an estimated 80-90% of their carbon emissions covered by the EU ETS, whereas long-haul carriers typically purchase carbon credits for 19% of their emissions, according to a T&E press release.
Speaking to the press, William Todts, Executive Director at T&E, said “It’s absurd that people flying to Madrid or Budapest have to pay carbon taxes but far more polluting trips to New York or Singapore are exempt. Long distance flights generate the largest chunk of aviation emissions and contrails. It’s about time the EU puts an end to this anomaly and starts addressing all of aviation’s emissions in its carbon market.”
The announcement comes just days after T&E joined forces with four carriers – Air France-KLM, easyJet, Ryanair and DPDHL to help shape a European Commission Legislative proposal called ReFuelEU.
According to the European Commission, the ReFuelEU initiative aims to boost the supply and demand for sustainable aviation fuels which, in turn, will reduce aviation’s environmental footprint and enable it to help achieve the EU’s climate targets.
In a consensus statement, airlines and NGOs called on the European legislators to be more “ambitious about the scale and timing of e-kerosene deployment, including an earlier start, if sufficient green hydrogen and renewable electricity becomes available” and called on the creation of a European Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Industrial Alliance.
The SAF Alliance would, according to the consensus group, be responsible for coordinating stakeholders throughout the value chain within the confines of competition regulation, promote the adoption of a SAF regulatory framework, and identify areas for further research and development.
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Interested in aviation decarbonisation or EU climate policy? You may be interested in Thomas Shaw’s upcoming book Aviation: Impacts on the Environment and their Management (external link) or the 2021 Edition of Environmental Policy in the EU: Actors, Institutions and Processes (external link). Both are available in our Shop, under the Air Transport and Politics and Public Governance sections, respectively.