Members of the EU Parliament’s Environment Committee on Wednesday (March, 19) unanimously rejected a compromise proposal to exempt intercontinental flights’ greenhouse gas emissions from the EU ETS until the start of 2017, according to official release. The proposal was informally agreed by MEPs and the EU Council Presidency earlier in March in order to extend the so-called “stop the clock” measure expiring in April. After that time, previous legislation requiring all aviation using EU airports to pay for the entire length of their flights will re-enter into force, potentially leading to new frictions between the EU and non-EU countries and airlines.
“Today’s vote simply means that MEPs do not like being bullied by third countries into dismantling EU climate legislation. We are committed to making aviation emission reductions contribute to our climate change policies. We proposed to earmark ETS revenues for climate action, so as to show our partners that the ETS is not a tax but the cornerstone of our climate policy. Unfortunately, EU member states don’t seem to like this idea. As a result, the ETS legislation could be back with full scope after April” said Environment Committee chair Matthias Groote (S&D, DE). Environmental and watchdog groups that criticized the weakness of the compromise deal welcomed Wednesday’s vote.
The vote of the cross-party environment committee is a preliminary indication. The full assembly will vote on the proposal on Thursday, 3 April. Despite the ENVI rejection, some EU officials and analysts believe the compromise could still pass in Parliament. Peter Liese (EPP, DE) said he remain “optimistic that the plenary will support the compromise”. “Everyone agrees that reinstating the original compliance coverage on 30 April is unacceptable. From a timeframe standpoint, there is too much pressure not to pass it,” said Emil Dimantchev, an analyst with Thomson Reuters Point Carbon.