Aviation EU-ETS Compliance Update – Essential Considerations

Aviation EU-ETS Compliance Update – Essential Considerations

Aircraft operators flying to, from and within European Union (EU) countries should be in compliance with the European Union Emission Trading Scheme (EU-ETS). While uncertainty remains among some operators regarding achieving EU-ETS compliance, there are resources available to ease compliance burdens.

The following is an overview of what you need to know:

1. Operators without registry accounts may face penalties

General Aviation (GA) operators flying to, from and within the EU should have their EU-ETS registry accounts established with their designated member state. If you don’t have a registry account in place by your designated reporting deadline, there may be fines involved, and/or your flight plans may not be accepted within the EU. While it’s uncertain when penalties may become actively imposed, there will likely be little notice when enforcement actions become "active." Enforcement activity and fines are imposed by member states, and fine amounts will likely vary on a case-by-case basis. As a general guideline, penalties could be in the range of 100 Euros for every carbon credit owed.

2. A new "small emitters’ tool" will soon be released

Keep in mind: If you’re using an older small emitters’ tool to track reportable carbon emissions, it will soon be outdated. A new tool will be available before the end of 2013. Based on past history, each new small emitters’ tool that is released is more accurate and complete than the tool it replaces. For example, the current small emitters’ tool does not include certain aircraft types, such as the Gulfstream G650, but the next version will.

3. Don’t rely on global initiatives to replace aviation EU-ETS anytime soon

ICAO meets in October to discuss a possible proposal for a global framework of aircraft emission reductions. This sort of proposal has been on ICAO’s agenda for several decades, and it’s unlikely they will come up with a detailed proposal within the next 12 months. At this time, we do not see tangible progress in the area of a global emission reduction framework to replace current EU-ETS compliance. Until such a program becomes a reality, all current EU-ETS requirements – including emissions monitoring, establishment of a registry account and the need to purchase carbon credits – should be followed. Keep in mind that EU-ETS regulations are complex, and the overall process is not easy to expedite. Operators who leave EU-ETS compliance to the last minute could face operational restrictions within the EU.

4. Aviation EU-ETS differs from a global framework in terms of enforcement action

One important difference between an EU and ICAO scheme is that an EU directive provides an enforcement mechanism. An ICAO program would involve compliance guidelines, but enforcement ability would rely on member states’ agreement to participate. ICAO does not have the authority to force member states into compliance in the same way the European Commission does.

5. Aviation EU-ETS requirements differ among member states

As more and more operators are added to EU-ETS lists, administration of the program has become more and more stressed. EU-ETS compliance is a moving target, with differing requirements country by country. You’ll get varying answers from different member states regarding EU-ETS compliance/procedures, so it’s difficult to provide general guidance for any specific timeframe. Best practice is to be prepared and to follow current EU-ETS compliance requirements from your assigned member state, while being prepared for change should an ICAO emission reduction global framework be adopted.

6. Many operators are still not complying with EU-ETS

A large number of GA operators are currently out of compliance with EU-ETS requirements. In some cases, it’s because the operator may be confused by program requirements, while in other cases, operators are waiting to see if regulations or requirements will change. Keep in mind that all operators to, from and within the EU are required to be in EU-ETS compliance. Having your flight operation non-compliant puts it at risk of financial penalties and potential operating restrictions.

7. Additional reading

For more information on EU-ETS and business aviation, see other articles published on this blog:


Best policy is to fully understand EU-ETS compliance requirements, to know risks associated with non-compliance and to work with a 3rd-party provider to reduce flight department EU-ETS-related workload.


If you have any questions about this article or EU-ETS regulations, contact me at adamhartley@univ-wea.com.