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Airlines still far from global carbon deal to cement ETS exclusion

20 Feb 2013 17:57:24 | edcm

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A solution keeping international flights out of the EU carbon Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) from 2013 onwards is still far from being reached, EU and UN officials said on Wednesday.

International flight emissions were originally due to be included in the scheme from 2012, but this faced strong opposition from countries outside the EU. Consequently, the European Commission, in the so-called stop-the-clock intervention, suspended the inclusion of non-EU flights until the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) autumn 2013 general assembly (see EDEM 12 November 2012).

At this assembly, the UN body is expected to deliver progress on a global market-based measure (MBM) scheme for international aviation. An environmental policy high-level group was created for this purpose in November (see EDCM 29 January 2013). But at the moment, ICAO member states still disagree on key issues, an ICAO official said.

ICAO's environment branch chief, Jane Hupe, said in a video message to a conference in London that "diverse views" on these key issues needed to be breached before a market-based framework could be worked out.

And the group needs more time to see how feasible it would be to roll out a global market-based system for airlines. The challenge would be to "accommodate the special circumstances and respective capabilities of members states", Hupe said.

Three MBMs are currently still being considered by ICAO: global mandatory offsetting, global mandatory offsetting with revenue generation and global emissions trading (see EDCM 1 February 2013).

The high-level group will meet for the third time in March.

"Package" of progress

After the last meeting of the high-level group, the EU labelled the progress made "limited" (see EDCM 7 February 2013). An EU official confirmed on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity, that "there is a lot of work still to be done".

But he added that it is still too soon to say which ICAO solution would be considered "acceptable" by the EU.

"There's a range of different scenarios and options, I think it's too early to predict," he told ICIS.

"The stop-the-clock is to give space to the ICAO process to deliver... If it does not deliver, then the legislation snaps back to its full scope."

He added that the EU wants to see progress across the board, including towards a global MBM. "A package of progress is what we need to see, and then once we see what the package is, we can then re-evaluate whether we want to make any further changes to the legislation." Silvia Molteni

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