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Mobility and Transport
News article7 March 2017Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport

The EU tackles growing aviation emissions

The Commission is amending the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) making it fit for tackling CO2 emissions from aviation. This comes following an agreement by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to stabilise international aviation emissions.

The European Union is a leading advocate for addressing fast-growing emissions from aviation. At the 2016 ICAO Assembly, the European Union and its Member States played an instrumental role in securing a deal on a global market-based measure to stabilise international aviation emissions. The system will require airlines to monitor and report their annual CO2 emissions on international routes and offset those exceeding 2020 levels.

Following this deal at global level, a revision of the EU Emissions Trading System is needed to maintain the contribution of the aviation sector to the European climate objectives and for the smooth implementation of the ICAO Global Market-Based Measure. The Commission is proposing to continue with the current geographic scope of the EU Emissions Trading System for aviation, covering flights between airports in the European Economic Area. This will ensure a level playing field and equal treatment of all airlines flying in Europe.

Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: "With this proposal we are making sure that the aviation sector also contributes to our climate objectives. Now, we call on countries around the world to participate in the global scheme from the beginning and help us finalise and implement sound environmental criteria to deliver real emissions reductions in the aviation sector."

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: "Following ICAO's landmark agreement, the European Union is now focused on getting the global scheme up and running. We are serious about achieving carbon neutral growth for aviation, and we will provide technical and financial assistance to make it happen. Aviation is a global business and no country can be left behind!"

Today's proposal to revise the EU Emission Trading System will be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council, which are expected to finalise the co-decision process by the end of the year.


The future competitiveness of the European air transport sector and its environmental sustainability go hand-in-hand. One of the objectives of the Aviation Strategy for Europe adopted by the Commission in December 2015 is therefore to preserve and enhance high environmental standards.

Between 2013 and 2016, commercial airlines covered by the EU Emissions Trading System contributed to more than 65 million tonnes of CO₂ emission reductions. These reductions have taken place either within the sector or in other sectors of the economy. The levels of compliance are above 99.5% of covered emissions.

The detailed rules of the Global Market-Based Measure will be prepared in 2017 and endorsed by ICAO in the course of 2018. The Commission is contributing to this process, and will provide technical assistance where needed. Even if the scheme only starts from 2021, emissions data should be collected from 2019.

Once there is greater clarity on the implementation of the Global Market-Based Measure, the Commission intends to present a further assessment of the EU Emission Trading System and, as appropriate, make the necessary proposals to make the scheme operational. This will also take due account of the EU's commitment to reduce domestic economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

For More Information

Questions and Answers : Reducing emissions from aviation
Fact sheet : 39th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation:
GMBM infographics
An Aviation Strategy for Europe


Publication date
7 March 2017
Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport