April 30, 2013
The European Parliament overwhelmingly decided on 16 April to “stop the clock” on including flights arriving in and departing from the EU in the Emissions Trading Scheme. Meeting in Strasbourg, MEPs voted 577 to 114 to adopt a March 26 vote by the Environment Committee to suspend for one year the enforcement of ETS provisions for international flights. The decision, backed by member states on 22 April, entered into force on 25 April when it was officially published in the EU Official Journal.
Parliament leaders were keen to emphasize that the suspension was not a repudiation of the core principles of the ETS. They also emphasized that it is for one year only — with the firm intention of jump-starting multilateral emissions-control talks through ICAO, the international aviation body. MEPs believe that this action represents a good-faith contribution toward making progress at ICAO, with a goal of having a roadmap to an international agreement by the time ICAO holds its triennial General Assembly in 2016.
The aviation industry is joining forces to move talks forward. On 13 May, the Air Transport Action Group will host the Aviation and Environment Summit in Montreal, with participation from IATA, ACI, CANSO, and ICCAIA and sponsorship by several aerospace firms. In September and October, ICAO’s General Assembly will convene, with sustainability on the agenda. The Parliament’s vote is thus a step toward reducing tension and providing the space needed for these dialogues to proceed.