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UN body votes to ground EU’s aviation emission efforts

(EurActiv, 7 Oct 2019) The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a United Nations agency, decided on Friday (4 October) to press ahead with plans to make its emissions offsetting scheme the only option available to its 193 member states, teeing up a dilemma regarding the EU’s own system.

EU delegates have been criticised for failing to raise meaningful objections to CORSIA, an instrument designed to force airlines to limit their environmental impact but which could torpedo Europe’s own emissions trading scheme (ETS).

The ETS currently includes all flights that operate within the European Economic Area but precludes trips in and out of the catchment area. A new ICAO resolution now says that CORSIA “should be the only market-based measure applied to international flights”.

ICAO wants to avoid duplicative counting of emissions but EU countries were asked by both the European Commission and Parliament ahead of the meeting to lodge a formal “reservation” when appropriate. Only verbal objections were made by transport officials.

A Commission spokesperson reiterated after the assembly had finished that the EU is committed to CORSIA’s implementation but that it should co-exist with the bloc’s own policies and efforts to meet the terms of the Paris Agreement.

Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout told EURACTIV that “again, the EU doesn’t dare to draw the line at ICAO”, adding that the UN body is “not up to the [climate] task so the EU should continue with its regional approach”.

CORSIA and the ETS differ in that the UN scheme requires airlines to make payments to offsetting schemes around the world, like forestry projects, while the ETS is a market-based mechanism tied to a carbon price that can go up and down.

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EurActiv, 7 Oct 2019: UN body votes to ground EU’s aviation emission efforts