General information

Greenhouse gas emissions from aviation have increased a lot and will continue to increase more in the future. It is predicted that by 2020, emissions from aviation activities will be 70% higher than in the year 2005, even though fuel savings would be 2% a year. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) forecasts that until the year 2050 the growth could be 300-700%.

Therefore, the EU has taken action to reduce emissions in Europe and to work with the international community to develop strategies with international goals in mind. One aspect of the EU policy on climate change is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation activities.

The EEA EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) have been part of the EU ETS since October 2007, when the EU ETS Directive (2003/87/EC) was incorporated into the EEA Agreement. Aviation was incorporated into the EU ETS on January 1st.2012 with Directive 2008/101/EC. Since then, all aircraft operators that are under the scope of the trading system must obtain allowances for emissions of CO2.

Emissions from flights 2013 – 2016

In 2012, flights to and from non-European countries were exempted to allow time for negotiations on a global market-based measure applying to aviation emissions. For the period 2013-2016 the legislation has also been amended so that only emissions from flights within the EEA fall under EU ETS. There are also exemptions for aircraft operators with low emissions.

These changes were made following an agreement by ICAO in October 2013 to establish an international market-based mechanism in relation with greenhouse gas emissions from aviation by 2016 and apply it by 2020.

Amended legislation provides that the Commission reports to the European Parliament and the Council on the outcome of the 2016 ICAO Assembly and propose appropriate measures where international developement will be taken into account from 2017.

In Iceland, the change was occured with Regulation 540/2014 on the implementation of Regulation (EU) No. 421/2014 of 16 April 2014 amending Directive 2003/87/EC to establish a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community with regards to the implementation of the international convention on the application of a common market-related overall measure of global emissions from aviation activities from 2020.

Regulation (EU) No. 421/2014 

Information for aircraft operators

Before the 1st of February each year the Commission will update the list of aircraft operators, to include the new entrants that started performing aviation activities in the previous year. The latest list of aircraft operators can be found on the Commission‘s webpage.

The European Commission has published some informative and insightful frequently asked questions.

The European Commission’s FAQs can be found here.

Inquiries can be sent to the Environmental Agency of Iceland (