The new Directive: "Directive 2008/101/EC amending Directive 2003/87/EC so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community" is evidence of the EU's continued commitment to transforming Europe into a highly energy efficient and low greenhouse gas-emitting economy. This Directive was published In the Official Journal of the European Union on January 13, 2009 and became effective on 2 February 2009.


By way of background, in January 2008, the European Commission published the Climate Change and Energy Package of proposals, including draft legislation, to implement the new EU energy policy adopted in March 2007.

The package of proposals included:

  • changes to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS)
  • targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from sectors not covered by the EU ETS
  • targets for each member state on renewable energy and biofuels
  • a new regime to regulate carbon capture and storage
  • revised guidelines on state aid for environmental matters.

This package was reviewed and heavily negotiated during 2008. It was agreed by the Council at a meeting of 11-12 December 2008 in Brussels and approved by the European Parliament on 17 December 2008.

On 13 January 2009, the first of the final versions of the package of directives was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The main objective of the Directive is to reduce the climate change impact attributable to aviation by including emissions from aircraft in the EU ETS.


After 2012, the aviation sector is to be included in the EU ETS. The Directive places obligations on aircraft operators, who have the most direct control over the type of aircraft in operation and the way they are flown. Air carriers have to surrender allowances for every tonne of CO2 emitted.

Once the Directive is implemented into national law in each Member State, aircraft operators will need to prepare a monitoring plan and monitor and report emissions in accordance with their plan. The monitoring plans will describe how the CO2 emissions of airplanes are calculated. Standardised EU-wide aviation monitoring and verification guidance is due to be finalised by the EU at the beginning of February 2009.


The Directive encourages Member States to work alongside third party countries in order to reduce the impact of emissions on climate change. Member States should continue to seek an agreement on global measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation. It is proposed that the EU ETS could serve as a model for the use of emissions world wide. The Directive encourages Member States to continue to be in contact with third party countries and to encourage them to take equivalent measures. If a third party country adopts measures which have an environmental effect at least equivalent to that of the Directive, to reduce the climate impact of flights to the EU, then the Commission is to consider the options available in order to provide optimum interaction between the EU ETS and that country's measures.


Certain flights will be exempt from the EU ETS. In order to avoid disproportionate administrative burdens, commercial air transport operators operating for three consecutive four month periods, with fewer than 243 flights per four month period are to be exempt from the EU ETS. This will benefit airlines from developing countries and also airlines operating limited services within the scope of the scheme.


Member States have until 2 February 2010 to transpose the Directive into national law