Europe may decide in the next five months to extend a freeze on emissions limits for foreign flights to as long as 2020, a European Union adviser said.
EU lawmakers will consider the position of nations, including the U.K., that are unwilling to have the bloc’s emission limits imposed on flights outside the region, Pierre Dechamps, an adviser for energy and climate change at the Bureau of European Policy Advisers, said today. The bureau reports to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
The EU’s suspension of emissions curbs on international flights applied to 2012 and was called stop-the-clock. Unless the bloc renews or changes the rules by April 30, airlines have to hand in allowances to match their 2013 emissions. The U.K. said last month it will seek to extend the halt, which was brought in to avoid trade conflicts and enable global talks on ways to curb aviation emissions.
“I perfectly understand the point of the U.K. in this,” Dechamps said at the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum in London. “It could well be that, in the end, we rather go toward an extension of stop-the-clock until 2016 or even maybe 2020. It’s probably still in the right direction.”
Dechamps said he was speaking in a personal capacity rather than on behalf of the commission, the EU’s regulatory arm.
The bloc’s carbon market, the world’s biggest, allocates tradable emission permits to polluters, which must surrender them to cover discharges or pay fines. The EU expanded its program last year to cover airlines, triggering protests from Saudi Arabia to the U.S. that prompted it to suspend the carbon curbs on foreign flights for a year.
The United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization agreed in October to complete a plan in the next three years for an aviation emissions market to start in 2020. Envoys at the meeting in Montreal declined to validate the EU’s plan to include foreign flights in its emissions trading system before the start of the global program.
The commission is proposing to make the regional portion of foreign flights subject to emission curbs from 2014, which the U.K. is seeking to modify, according to the country’s Department for Energy and Climate Change.
The commission’s proposal “doesn’t reflect global politics or reality,” Niall Mackenzie, head of industrial energy efficiency at the U.K.’s DECC, said at the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum. “If the main prize is a global system, and we’re working towards that, why do you go and antagonize third countries?”
Some nations that support a global carbon market for airlines are “horrified” by the commission’s proposal, Mackenzie said, without identifying countries.
Before Europe suspended carbon curbs on foreign flights, President Barack Obama signed a bill shielding U.S. carriers from the rules and Russia announced it was considering limits on European flights over Siberia. Airbus SAS said in June that orders from China for A330 wide-body jetliners were in limbo after the government there froze the contracts.
“People who are on our side are threatening to walk away,” Mackenzie said. “I’m not sure sure how we can get the Chinese to buy our products, without their agreement. Threatening them all the time isn’t going to work.”
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