Will carbon offsetting still be necessary now that aviation has been integrated into the EU-ETS?


As of 2012, emissions from aviation will be included in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS). Once this enters into force, airlines flying to and within the EU must give up one EU emissions certificate (EUA) for every ton of CO2 they emit. Airlines will be allocated 85% of certificates via the ‘grandfathering’ method (free of charge). The remaining 15% will have to be bought at auction or from other companies within the EU ETS (EU 2008).

As such, the aviation-related auctioning of certificates will generate considerable income for the EU in the period from 2012 – 2020. However, the relevant EU directive 2009/29/EC on the amendment of the EU-ETS, only stipulates that 50% of income should be used for the reduction of greenhouse gases and adaptation to the consequences of climate change (EU 2009). The implication is that only 50% of income from 15% of total certificates used by aviation, will actually be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which means that EU flight emissions will never be fully offset. In fact, a study of the European federation ‚Transport and Environment’ came to the conclusion that the integration of aviation emissions into the EU-ETS, as it is due to be implemented (2012) will merely offset the annual increase in flight emissions (Transport and Environment 2008).