EU negotiators have agreed on Dec. 7 to only keep carbon tax for flights within the European Economic Area and exclude long-haul flights from the pricing scheme. This means that 58% of Europe’s aviation carbon emissions will not be accounted for.
This agreement makes aviation one of very few sectors in the EU that do not fall under the carbon tax. Power plants, steel, chemicals, and international shipping will all be regulated by the union’s emissions trading system (EU ETS).
The lawmakers opposed extending the CO2 market to departing flights and said the international offsetting mechanism CORSIA – set up by the UN body ICAO – will address international flight emissions.
However, as part of the deal, the European Commission will have to assess by July 1 2026 whether the CORSIA scheme is effective in cutting global flight emissions.
The new agreement will affect Europeans flying within the EU, like families on their annual holiday, who will have to pay for their emissions while regular long-haul flyers won’t.
“EU governments were oblivious to the weakness of ICAO and lacked the grit to push through a deal that was good for the climate and social justice,” said Jo Dardenne, aviation director at T&E. “Average European families will continue to pay much more for their CO2 emissions than frequent long-haul flyers. We are about to lose another decade of climate inaction because of EU governments’ cowardice towards ICAO.”
According to a study by T&E, only 22% of total international CO2 emissions would be covered by the end of the decade under CORSIA.
Under the new deal, the lawmakers approved a sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) allowances pricing scheme that will encourage the use of SAFs by trying to bridge the price gap between sustainable and conventional fuels.