Europe Adds Flights To Its Emission Trading System

  • Published on October 26th, 2008

By 2012, All Flights Arriving At Or Departing From An EU Airport Must Participate In The Emission Trading System.

On Friday, the European Council adopted a directive that demands aviation activities must be included in the EU’s Emission Trading System (ETS). The ETS started operations back in 2005 in an effort to curb Global Warming, and is the largest multi-country Greenhouse Gas emission trading system world-wide.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) strongly objected to the decision – duh! The IATA accounts for over 200 airlines and 93-percent of scheduled international air traffic.

How the EU ETS works is by permitting one carbon-dioxide-tonne/year from operators where the number of permits allocated is what actually limits overall emissions. So operators must redeem allowances commensurate to the volume of their emissions. Of course, they can trade for these permits – hence the name.

Under the new directive, all flights arriving at or departing from an EU airport must participate in the ETS regardless if their operations are EU-based or not. So any US-based carriers flying to and from Europe will also have to play along. And in an effort to continue pissing off the airlines, the EU says this is just the first step in reducing emissions that cause global warming from aviation. I say w00t!

The new legislation also contains provisions that allow for its adjustment in case third countries adopt similar measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their aviation sectors. Also, the Council said that this provision ensures that new aircraft operators with initially very low but increasing mobility rates are not penalized by the scheme.

By 2012, emissions from the aviation sector will be capped at 97-percent of the annual average from the years 2004 to 2006. From 2013 onwards, the cap will drop to 95-percent of these emissions. Of the total allowances, 15-percent of them will be auctioned off whereas the remaining 85-percent will be allocated free of charge. That percentage split is subject to review by the EU ETS and could change.

Excluded from the directive are system flights related to search and rescue, fire-fighting, humanitarian aid, emergency medical services and checking aircraft as well as flights performed under public service obligations (police, customs and military).

While I would put this in the progress column, I’d say it’s better to just take the train.

Image source: creo que soy yo on Flickr

About the Author

is a web developer, part-time blogger, and a full-time environmentalist. His crusade for all things eco started twenty years ago when he ditched his meat-and-potatoes upbringing for something more vegetarian-shaped. His passions include cooking, green tech, eco politics, and smart green design. And while he doesn't own a car anymore, he loves to write about those too. Jerry studied at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA. During his time there he was a DJ at the campus station KCPR and he also wrote for the campus paper. Jerry currently resides in San Francisco, CA with his cat Lola. You can stalk him on Twitter @jerryjamesstone.


  • No, it means that you'll waste more jet fuel stopping in northern africa, so that your flight into or out of Europe is short, and not as expensive as a non-stop would be. This is going to be *WORSE* for the environment.

  • Carbon trading is the biggest scam ever invented. Who decides how much is an acceptable amount of emissions? so now we have a group of govt favorites that get to rob other industries blind and pollute just as much as they like.

  • Seems to me that what this will actually do is cause US airlines to suspend service to EU countries, and split off one or two carriers whose sole purpose is to provide transportation in and out of the EU. Those flights, of course, will be far more expensive than they used to be. That, or the only way in or out of the EU will be by ship or train.

Comments are closed.