The European Union has confirmed it will “stop the clock” on the implementation of the international aspects of its Emissions Trading Scheme in the aviation sector by one year.
As it seeks an international compromise on the scheme, the EU will defer the obligation to surrender emissions allowances from air traffic to and from the EU by one year.
The decision is based on the “encouraging results” of the ICAO Council meeting earlier in November, the EU said, as well as the constructive engagement of international partners in the relevant discussions.
The EU is now convinced a global solution for addressing the fast growing aviation emissions from international aviation is within reach at the upcoming ICAO Assembly in 2013.
Implementation of the scheme, which sees aircraft using European airspace faced with an environmental levy, has been hugely controversial.
Authorities in the United States and India have challenged the scheme, while China has forbidden airlines to pay the charge.
The latest decision means the EU would not require allowances to be surrendered in April 2013 for emissions from such flights during the whole of 2012.
The monitoring and reporting obligations will also be deferred for such flights.
The obligations relating to all operators’ activities within EU will remain intact and compliance with the EU law will be enforced in this respect.
EU commissioner for climate action, Connie Hedegaard, said: “The EU has always been very clear: nobody wants an international framework tackling CO2-emissions from aviation more than we do.
“Our EU legislation is not standing in the way of this.
“On the contrary, our regulatory scheme was adopted after having waited many years for ICAO to progress.
“Now it seems that because of some countries’ dislike of our scheme many countries are prepared to move in ICAO, and even to move towards a Market Based Mechanism at global level.”
Hedegaard warned that, in the unlikely event of the ICAO Assembly failing to move forward, the EU ETS legislation would be applied in full again from 2013 onwards.