Analysis by the EEA finds around 600 aircraft operators covered by the EU ETS emitted 55 Mt CO2 in 2014
Wed 13 Apr 2016 – The annual analysis by the European Environment Agency on the application of the EU Emissions Trading Directive reports total aviation emissions covered by the EU ETS in 2014 amounted to 54.9 Mt CO2. The total represents just over 3% of all greenhouse gas emissions covered by the EU scheme. Domestic emissions in 2014 of 11 Mt CO2 accounted for 20% of total aviation emissions. In the period 2009-2013, domestic and international aviation emissions remained relatively stable at around 150 Mt CO2 per annum, which means just over one-third of aviation emissions reported in EU GHG inventories are included in the current scope of the EU ETS. The scope is currently restricted to intra-EEA flights until the end of this year. Following recent data released by the European Commission, carbon analysts are forecasting aviation emissions covered by the scheme rose by 3.6% in 2015.
The analysis by the European Environment Agency (EEA) is based on a statutory requirement (Article 21) of the EU ETS Directive that requires EU member states to report on the application of the directive. The EEA report considers whether or not the implementation of the directive is on track and whether there is potential for improvement.
The report finds there were 596 aircraft operators included in the EU ETS in 2014, with 52% classed as commercial operators and 48% as non-commercial. With 161, the UK administered the most number of operators.
Twelve EU countries reported they were aware of 62 operators in total that should have complied with the scheme as they performed flights within the European Economic Area scope (EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). However, there are also operators located outside the EEA that are excluded from the EU ETS but were included in the reported numbers. This was the case for at least 10 operators reported by Romania.
More than half the operators included in the EU ETS are classified as small emitters, defined as those whose flights in aggregate emit less than 25,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum or that operate fewer than 243 flights per period for three consecutive four-month periods. A small emitter can take advantage of a simplified procedure to monitor CO2 emissions from its flight activity. Countries reported that the Small Emitters Tool (SET) was used by the large majority to estimate fuel consumption, although 71 small emitters did not.
“Whether or not more needs to be done to reduce the administrative burden on small emitters should be further investigated,” says the EEA report. “The consistency of the data reported on aviation small emitters also needs to improve, especially with regard to the information on the methods used to determine aviation emissions.”
Three countries – Italy, Poland and Sweden – imposed fines on aircraft operators for non-compliance. The largest aircraft operator penalty of €12,129,257 ($13.7m) was imposed by Italy, and believed to be on Ethiopian Airlines. The other two countries did not impose fines of more than €66,000.
Excess emission penalties were imposed on 63 aircraft operators – more than 10% of the total number of operators – in four countries (Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK), although countries were still issuing fines for 2012 in 2015, and so may correspond to several years.
The provisions for infringement penalties vary broadly across EU states, from no penalty to €15 million in the case of Ireland, says the EEA. Prison sentences for infringements are also possible in Cyprus, Denmark, Ireland, Luxemburg, Norway and Sweden. These can vary from three to 12 months but none were imposed in the reporting period. Although a sanction of last resort, countries can request an operating ban from the Commission for non-compliance.
“Reporting in the aviation sector is developing and is expected to further improve in the coming years,” concludes the report.