The European Parliament on September 13 backed plans to exempt airlines from paying for CO2 emissions from intercontinental flights until 2020.

MEPs voted to prolong the intercontinental exemption from EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) rules until December 2020, pending the introduction of a worldwide scheme to offset CO2 emissions from air transport.

“It is sensible that we extend the exemption for international flights to and from the EU until there is greater clarity on the ICAO scheme. However, unlike the European Commission, I believe this exemption must be time limited so that we can be sure that the CORSIA will deliver its objective,” said lead MEP Julie Girling (ECR, UK).

However, the MEPs agreed that the aviation sector should receive only half of its EU ETS allowances for free as of 2021. It is currently 85%.

According to a European Parliament press release, the MEPs also want EU member states to earmark revenue from the auctioning of emission allowances for climate change policies.

The European Commission will have to report on the setting up of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)’s global scheme (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation – CORSIA) and if necessary, propose to amend, delete or extend the intercontinental flight exemption.

“Aviation contributes 1.3% of global CO2 emissions and that will increase significantly over the coming decades unless effective action is taken,” noted Girling. “The EU is already leading the way on tackling this issue and we must not let the pace slacken. As the rapporteur for EU ETS phase IV, I am well aware of the need for the aviation sector to do its fair share for emissions reduction” she added.”

Approved by 601 votes to 69, with 26 abstentions, the European Parliament referred the report back to the Environment Committee, so that they can negotiate a common text with the Council of Ministers.