SINGAPORE - A revised proposal by the European Commission (EC) to extend the EU emissions trading system (ETS) to all flights operating in European airspace from next year has been met with concern from aviation associations.
These groups say the move undermines ongoing efforts by the United Nations' aviation body, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), to devise a scheme to curb emissions growth that will apply globally.
When the EC mooted the controversial scheme in recent years, it called for airlines to pay an emissions tax based on the distance from the last point of take-off. This plan incited staunch opposition from countries such as the US, China and India, and nearly sparked a trade war.
As a result of the opposition, the EC was forced to put its plan of incorporating international aviation in the ETS on hold last November.
Then on Wednesday, it issued a statement announcing a change to the idea - that is, the emissions tax would be payable only by airlines with flights in European airspace as opposed to the last point of departure, and that this would take effect ahead of the planned global market- based mechanism (MBM) that becomes applicable to international aviation emissions by 2020.
Connie Hedegaard, the European Commissioner for Climate Action, said: "I am confident that the European Parliament and the Council will move swiftly and approve this proposal without delay.
"With this proposal, Europe is taking responsibility to reduce emissions within its own airspace until the global measure begins." Under this proposal, all emissions between airports in the European Economic Area - the 28 EU member states as well as Norway and Iceland - would be liable to the emissions tax.