European aviation only pays for 30% of its CO2 emissions

04/06/2021 at 10:35 AM CEST

European airlines stop paying most of the CO2 emissions produced by their planes, given that 70% of their flights take place outside the community space. In this way, large airlines only pay emission rights for 30% of their activity, according to an analysis published this Monday by Transport & Environment and Carbon Market Watch.

Seventy per cent of the CO2 equivalent emissions of European Union airlines occur outside Community airspace, so that only 30 per cent of emissions are subject to regulation, which allows companies to pollute without paying for more than two-thirds of their emissions, according to an analysis published this Monday by Transport & Environment and Carbon Market Watch.

Given these results, Ecologists in Action, which is part of Transport & Environment, calls on the European Union to implement “more ambitious” measures to decarbonise the aviation sector, such as the introduction of fiscal measures such as a kerosene tax, the promotion of advanced biofuels with strict sustainability criteria, among other measures.

According to T&E this It is the first time that the total emissions data of the airlines have been releasedIn this case, those of 2019. Until now, only emissions were available within the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), that is, those of flights within the European Economic Area.

The conclusion is that currently airlines freely pollute in their operations outside the Twenty-seven and also account for the bulk of the activity of the main airlines, reports Europa Press.

Specifically, the report states that operations outside the EU account for 77 percent for Lufthansa; 83 per cent for Air Europa and 86 per cent for British Airways. On these flights, European airlines emitted 65.9 million tonnes in 2019, for which they “did not pay a penny.”

Iberia does not pay for 83% of its polluting emissions

Regarding Spanish airlines, the report states that Iberia released a total of 5.67 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2019, of which 83 percent “benefited from legal limbo” due to the lack of a regulatory framework.

Specifically, he adds that the IAG group company was the sixth airline in the EU with the highest volume of emissions and the third in proportion of unregulated emissions.

Regarding Air Europa, the study data indicate that it emitted 2.34 million tons of CO2, of which “only” 28.6 percent were subjected to some type of regulation. For its part, Vueling, with a very similar total emissions figure (2.33 million tons of CO2), registered a high percentage of regulated emissions (93.9%), as a consequence of the eminently intra-European nature of its operations.

For the director of aviation of T&E, Andrew Murphy, director of aviation of T&E, “after a whole year wasting aid in airline rescues, governments must consider a change of course and focus on making the sector greener. Airlines should be forced to pay for emissions from all their flights, and required to use cleaner fuels. ‘

According to current regulations, airlines only pay for emissions from flights that take place within the European Economic Area.

In 2008, the EU tried to include long-haul aviation in the Emissions Trading Regulation (ETS), but the industry pushed to get flights between EU and non-EU countries to be excluded from the regulatory rule. The pretext, as explained by T&E, was to allow the creation of an international system for the regulation of CO2 emissions under the auspices of the United Nations that would bring together all airlines at a global level.

This regulatory system, promoted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and known as Corsia, aims to keep emissions from the sector at 2020 levels. Corsia will be enforced by States from 2027.

For the Carbon Market Watch policy officer, Gilles Dufransne, “Corsia is nothing more than a cheap excuse used by the aviation sector to continue acting as before.”

In his opinion, instead of defending the EU, it should oppose and end exemptions from which airlines currently benefit, including the free distribution of pollution permits.

The European Commission is in the process of reviewing its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to determine whether flights entering or leaving the European Economic Area should be part of it, as well as deciding on a formula to articulate it with the system. Corsage.

The NGO assures that replacing the ETS with the Corsia system would contribute to an increase in CO2 emissions of about 683 million tons in the period 2021-2030.

Finally, the coordinator of the Ecologistas en Acción Aviation campaign, Pablo Muñoz, considers that the EU “must” show much greater ambition in its policies to decarbonise the aviation sector. To do this, he believes that it should strengthen the ETS and establish fiscal measures such as the kerosene tax, cancel all financing for the increase of airport infrastructures and promote the use of advanced biofuels with strict sustainability criteria.

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