The European Parliament on Wednesday rejected a proposal to reform the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) amid political disagreements.
The proposed changes, which included targeting emissions from road transportation, will now be delayed and there are fears political divisions will set back the timeframe for finalising the EU’s climate policy, Reuters reported.
In order to achieve its objective of becoming climate neutral by 2050, the EU Commission previously proposed SAF-blending mandates for the aviation sector, where airlines must blend fossil fuels with sustainable fuels until the mix is the only one available by 2030.
The Parliament did, however, agree to expand the scope of the ETS to all flight departures from the European Economic Area (which includes the 27 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) from 2024. It also agreed to phase out free emitting permits for air carriers earlier than planned, by 2025 instead of 2027.
Campaign group Transport & Environment praised the EU’s steps to reduce aviation emissions, but urged policymakers not to let politics get in the way of ‘ambitious transport measures’.
T&E aviation director Jo Dardenne said: “The bulk of Europe's aviation emissions will no longer be ignored, marking a major step forward in tackling heavily polluting long-haul flights. It's now up to national governments to make this a reality. However, disagreements on the overall package mean ambitious measures for shipping and road transport, agreed on by Parliament, have now been delayed. Negotiators should come back to the table as soon as possible and maintain the ambitious measures already agreed for road and shipping.”
On the other hand, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), slammed the decision to expand the aviation ETS, saying it ‘endangers international cooperation to tackle aviation’s climate change impacts’.
IATA director general Willie Walsh said: “The best thing that the EU could do for aviation’s decarbonisation is work towards a global agreement for international aviation. This signal by the EU Parliament that it is moving away from the CORSIA agreement will inevitably distract from the multilateral cooperation that is essential for any increased ambition for international aviation to address climate change.”