After the European Union’s landmark decision last week to bring the shipping industry into its carbon market, Transport & Environment is urging decision-makers to follow suit with air travel.
The move to hold the shipping industry accountable for its emissions is a “watershed moment” that proves the EU “can regulate emissions beyond its borders,” the Brussels-based advocacy group writes in a release. Now, negotiators meeting this week must seize on the expansion of regulatory reach and “apply an equally ambitious carbon market to the aviation industry.”
Under current regulations, carbon emissions from flights outside EU borders—some 60% of the total—are exempt from Europe’s Emissions Trading System (ETS). “Add to this a host of free allowances and airline polluters pay hardly anything,” the group writes.
But now, “with shipping no longer off the hook, there are no excuses for the aviation sector,” said T&E sustainable shipping officer Jacob Armstrong said.
He added that the EU deal has effectively “thrown the gauntlet down to other jurisdictions like the United States, China, and Japan to make this hugely important first step towards zero-emission shipping.”
Starting 2024, shipping companies will have to buy EU carbon permits to cover 40% of their emissions, rising to 70% in 2025 and 100% in 2026, reports Reuters.
Shippers will also be held to account for 50% of emissions from international voyages that begin and end in the EU. This regulatory change will “clamp down on pollution between country borders that often gets left out of governments’ national emissions-cutting policies.”
The new rules are expected to “encourage ship owners and operators to invest in the best available technologies, such as less-polluting fuels,” Reuters says. And “negotiators also agreed to dedicate revenues from the sale of 20 million EU carbon permits to fund maritime emissions-cutting projects.”
EU negotiators are set to meet several more times to revamp their carbon market and better align it with a pledge to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions 55% from 1990 levels by 2030. They will attempt to hash out the rest of the carbon market upgrades by December 17, Reuters writes.