Guidance

EU ETS: operators and activities affected

About EU ETS, operators and activities included in EU ETS, small emitters and aircraft operators.

Overview

The EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) is the largest greenhouse gas emissions trading system in the world. It covers many different business sectors including oil refineries, offshore platforms, and industries that produce iron and steel, cement and lime, paper, glass, ceramics and chemicals.

Other organisations, like universities and hospitals, may also be covered by EU ETS depending upon the combustion activity and capacity at their sites.

EU ETS was extended to the aviation sector in January 2009 to cover carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from flights leaving from or arriving at EU airports. These are referred to as ‘full scope flights’. From January 2011 flights to and from the European Economic Area (EEA) states of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are also included.

Since January 2013 a temporary reduction in the geographical scope of aviation EU ETS means that aircraft operators only have to monitor, report and surrender for flights between:

  • EEA airports

  • airports located in the same outermost region of EEA Member States

EU ETS operates in phases. Phases I and II have ended and now we are in phase III, from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2020.

In the UK, EU ETS for installations is regulated by:

  • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy - Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (BEIS-OPRED)
  • Environment Agency
  • Natural Resources Wales (NRW)
  • Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA)
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)

EU ETS for aviation is regulated by:

  • Environment Agency
  • NRW
  • DAERA
  • SEPA

EU ETS for installations: activities included

EU ETS phase III applies to you if you carry out any of the activities listed in Annex I to the EU ETS Directive.

The EU ETS regulatory guidance for installations (including excluded installations) and the EU guidance on Interpretation of Annex 1 of the EU ETS Directive (excluding aviation activities) provide more information on the specific installation activities included.

If EU ETS does apply to you, you must apply for a greenhouse gas permit before you start to carry out your regulated activities.

Small emitter and hospital opt-out scheme

This is a UK scheme that allows eligible installations to be excluded from some of the EU ETS obligations during phase III.

During 2012, installation operators applied to the government to join this scheme. Excluded installation permits were granted on 1 January 2013 to those operators whose applications were successful.

You can no longer apply to become an excluded operator under the small emitters and hospital opt-out scheme for the remainder of phase III of EU ETS.

Installations: further guidance

If you are not sure if EU ETS applies to you, these guidance documents provide more help:

EU ETS Phase III: guidance for installations

Regulatory guidance for installations - this guidance describes the main provisions of the Regulations and how they and relevant EU legislation should be applied and interpreted.

The European Commission website has guidance for phase III of EU ETS.

Or contact your regulator:

Environment Agency: ethelp@environment-agency.gov.uk

NRW: ghghelp@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk

DAERA: emissions.trading@daera-ni.gov.uk

BEIS-OPRED: emt@beis.gov.uk

SEPA: emission.trading@sepa.org.uk

EU ETS for aviation: activities included

In 2014, the European Commission made some temporary changes to EU ETS for aviation that applied to the years 2013 to 2016 inclusive. For that period of time:

  • the geographical scope of the scheme was reduced so aircraft operators only had to monitor, report and surrender allowances for flights between EEA airports
  • non-commercial aircraft operators emitting less than 1,000 tonnes CO2 per year from full scope flights were exempt

In December 2017, the European Commission extended the geographical scope reduction to 31 December 2023, and the exemption to 31 December 2030.

Information about these changes can be found on the EU website.

You will have obligations under EU ETS phase III if you are a UK administered operator, which has carried out an aviation activity listed in Annex 1 to the EU ETS Directive other than an exempt activity or an excluded aviation activity. Annex 1 sets out which activities are exempt. Excluded aviation activities are defined in The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2014 No. 2014/3125.

If the EU ETS does apply to you, you must notify your regulator and apply for an emissions monitoring plan.

Check if EU ETS for aviation applies to you:

1. Look at the Commission List to see if you are listed as a UK administered operator

Each year, the European Commission publishes a list (the Commission List) of aircraft operators and their respective administering EU Member State.

You may be administered by the UK even if you are not based here.

If you are not on the Commission List but think you should be administered by the UK, you need to contact the European Commission and your regulator in the UK.

2. Check if you are carrying out an aviation activity listed in Annex 1 to the EU ETS Directive or whether your flights are exempt

Annex 1 of the EU ETS Directive sets out the types of flight that are not included in aviation EU ETS. They are referred to as ‘exempt’ flights.

If you are on the Commission List but have not carried out, and do not intend to carry out, an Annex 1 activity you must tell your regulator within 12 weeks of the Commission List’s publication date.

If you consider that all your flights are exempt, you should contact your regulator and provide supporting evidence. You can do this using the emissions monitoring plan application on the Emissions Trading Scheme Workflow Automation Project.

Your regulator will review your evidence alongside data provided by Eurocontrol. They will then write to you to confirm whether or not your flights are exempt.

3. Check if you are only performing excluded aviation activities

If you are on the Commission List and have carried out an Annex 1 activity but have only performed, and only expect to perform, excluded aviation activities, you must notify your regulator within 12 weeks of the Commission List’s publication date.

When you contact your regulator, state that you only expect to perform excluded aviation activities within the 4 month period following the 12 weeks after the publication of the Commission List. You must submit a notification using the emissions monitoring plan application on ETSWAP.

4. Contact your UK regulator if you are carrying out an aviation activity listed in Annex 1 to the EU ETS Directive that is not an excluded aviation activity

You must contact your regulator and apply for an aviation emission plan within 12 weeks of the publication date of the Commission List.

Aviation small emitters

An aviation small emitter is:

  • an operator who carries out fewer than 243 flights per period, for 3 consecutive 4-month periods (January to April, May to August, September to December), or
  • an operator whose flights emit less than 25,000 tonnes CO2 per year

These thresholds are based on the full scope of EU ETS as defined in Annex 1 of the EU ETS Directive.

If you are a small emitter, you can use a simplified monitoring approach using a European Commission approved tool to estimate your fuel consumption, for example Eurocontrol’s small emitter’s tool.

You notify your regulator that you are a small emitter in your application for an emissions plan.

You must check you are using the correct version of the approved Eurocontrol small emitters tool for the monitoring period in question.

Simplified reporting for aircraft operators

You can use annual emissions reports generated from the Eurocontrol ETS support facility (ETS-SF) to compile your emissions monitoring report if your flights:

  • emit less than 25,000 tonnes CO2 per year (based on full scope aviation activities as defined in Annex I to the EU ETS Directive)

and/or

  • emit less than 3,000 tonnes of CO2 per year (based on reduced scope aviation activities)

If you report using ETS-SF data you do not need to have the report verified by an independent verifier.

However, you must check the ETS-SF data against your internal flight records to make sure it accurately reflects your reportable flight activities. Ensure that any errors are corrected by Eurocontrol.

Aviation: further guidance

If you are not sure whether EU ETS for aviation applies to you, read EU ETS Phase III: guidance for aircraft operators.

The European Commission website has guidance for EU ETS aviation.

Or contact your regulator:

Environment Agency: etaviationhelp@environment-agency.gov.uk

NRW: ghghelp@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk

DAERA: emissions.trading@daera-ni.gov.uk

SEPA: emission.trading@sepa.org.uk

Published 23 April 2014
Last updated 6 February 2018 + show all updates
  1. Page updated to reflect the recent changes to requirements in the EU ETS Directive (as amended), and UK Regulations (2017).
  2. Updates from section 'EU ETS for aviation: activities included' onwards.
  3. First published.