In the Official Gazette dated March 25, 2022, and numbered 31789, the Regulation on the Monitoring of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Arising from Aviation Activities (“the Regulation”) was published by the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (“General Directorate”) in order to regulate the procedures and principles regarding the monitoring, reporting and verification of greenhouse gas emissions (In other words, carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas emitted into the atmosphere by burning fuel and the like) arising from national and international aviation activities. In principle, the Regulation entered into force on the date of its publication, however, there is also a number of provisions which we will be mentioning later in this article, some of which have entered into force as of May 1st, 2022 as well as the ones to become effective as of January 1st, 2023.
With, the Regulation the procedures and principles regarding the monitoring, reporting, and verification of greenhouse gas emissions arising from national and international aviation activities are regulated. It also determines the procedures and principles regarding the determination of the obligations of Verifier Bodies and Aircraft Operators.
The Regulation defines the Aircraft Operator as the person, organization, or business that is involved in the operation of aircraft, which has duly obtained an aviation operating license. Verifier Bodies, on the other hand, are defined in the Regulation as independent third-party legal entities accredited and authorized by the General Directorate to carry out and report on the verification process.
In this regard, it has been determined that
- Aircraft Operators that produce more than 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually on international flights due to the use of aircraft with a maximum certified take-off weight of more than 5,700 kg, and
- Aircraft Operators that produce more than 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually on national flights due to the use of aircraft with a maximum certified take-off weight of more than 5,700 kg
will be within the scope of the Regulation.
On the other hand, flights for humanitarian aid, medical and firefighting purposes, and flights operated by State aircraft are excluded from the scope of the Regulation.
General Principles and Obligations in the Regulation
The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure has been appointed as the responsible and competent administrative authority for the execution of the provisions specified in the Regulation. The Aircraft Operator will be reporting and performing any and all notifications to the General Directorate in accordance with the Regulation and its sub-regulation (“relevant legislation”).
Monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions is specifically regulated in the Regulation. Accordingly, the Aircraft Operator is obliged to prepare an emission monitoring plan and monitor its greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with this plan and submit the emission monitoring plan to the General Directorate for approval in accordance with the timetable determined within the scope of the relevant legislation. The submitted monitoring plan may or may not be approved by the General Directorate. In order to correct the deficiencies of the unsatisfactory monitoring plans, an additional period of up to 30 days will be granted depending on the situation of the violation. If the conditions determined by the General Directorate are fulfilled within this period, the emission monitoring plan will be approved by the General Directorate.
In terms of Aircraft Operators that exceed at least one of the carbon dioxide emission thresholds determined within the scope of the Regulation, a distinction is made about whether they have just entered the market or not. A newcomer to the market should start monitoring its emissions from the year after it exceeds at least one of the carbon dioxide emission thresholds set under the Regulation. The Aircraft Operator is obliged to prepare an emission monitoring plan and submit it to the General Directorate within three months after at least one of the emission thresholds is exceeded. On the other hand, an Aircraft Operator that is currently in operation and has emissions below the thresholds determined under the Regulation should start monitoring its emissions from the year after it exceeds at least one of the carbon dioxide emission thresholds determined under the Regulation. In this case, the Aircraft Operator is also obliged to prepare an emission monitoring plan and submit it to the General Directorate.
The manner of reporting the emissions subsequent to monitoring activities is particularly specified. The Aircraft Operator has to report the greenhouse gas emissions monitored between January 1st and December 31st of the previous year to the General Directorate in accordance with the timetable determined in the relevant legislation. The General Directorate may extend this period up to a maximum of one month if deemed necessary. The emission report will be prepared within the framework of the emission monitoring plan approved by the General Directorate. The above-mentioned monitoring and reporting regulations have entered into force as of May 1st, 2022. Moreover, as of January 1st, 2023, emissions will need to be verified before such reporting is made to the General Directorate.
Greenhouse gas emission reports will be verified by a verification body accredited by another national accreditation body that has signed a mutual recognition agreement with the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) in the field of verification of greenhouse gas emissions, within the framework of the procedures and principles determined in the sub-regulations of the Regulation and authorized by the General Directorate. The conditions, as well as the accreditation and competency criteria to be fulfilled by the Verifier Bodies and the members of the verification team working in these organizations, are specified in detail in the Regulation.
The Regulation also introduced a special Conflict of Interest provision while enumerating the requirements sought in Verifier Bodies. Accordingly, if the Verifier Bodies have a financial, commercial, or any kind of relationship with the Aircraft Operator that would harm the principle of impartiality and independence, they will not be able to operate in such verification activities. The partners, chairman and members of the board of directors, managers, and personnel involved in the verification process shall not engage in any relationship based on interest that would prevent the verification from being carried out effectively with the Aircraft Operator or partnerships directly or indirectly controlled by the Aircraft Operator.
The regulation stipulates that the information and documents required for the works and transactions (which are carried out electronically) will be handed over or submitted by the Aircraft Operator to the General Directorate and the Verification Body in accordance with the timetable determined within the scope of the relevant legislation. If necessary, the General Directorate may request additional documents, and in case of any amendments to the submitted documents, it is the responsibility of the Aircraft Operator to duly notify the General Directorate in an up-to-date manner. In the event that the Aircraft Operator is replaced for any reason, the new operator shall be deemed to have undertaken the commitments and obligations of the previous operator within the scope of the Regulation without the need for any further action and be obliged to submit the notification regarding the replacement to the General Directorate within 30 days at the latest. The General Directorate may request the renewal of the monitoring plan and/or the emission report due to such replacement. Finally, the Aircraft Operator has an obligation to keep records of meeting the requirements under the Regulation for 10 years. The General Directorate shares the information and documents it has acquired with the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change.
Audit and Administrative Sanctions
The aircraft operator may be inspected by the General Directorate, with or without notice, within the framework of its compliance with the procedures and principles set forth in the Regulation and its sub-regulations. During the inspections, if the issues contrary to the Regulation and its sub-regulations are detected, the General Directorate will request the Aircraft Operator to eliminate such issues within 30 days. It is also regulated that unless the Verifier Bodies meet the requirements, their authorizations may be suspended or revoked.
In case non-compliance with the Regulation and its sub-regulations is determined and the violations are not remedied within the specified time, an administrative fine will be applied in accordance with the provision titled Misdemeanor Behaviors of the Turkish Civil Aviation Law (“the Law”) and in accordance with the Regulation on Administrative Fines to be Imposed by the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (SHY-IPC).
In case it is determined, during the inspections carried out in accordance with the Regulation and the sub-regulations thereof, that the Aircraft Operators and Verification Bodies have deliberately or negligently provided false and/or misleading information to the General Directorate, a sanction will be imposed in accordance with the same article of the Law.
The Regulation on Monitoring of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Aviation Activities came into force as the concrete counterpart of the trends that focus on a sustainable economy, such as the Paris Agreement and the subsequent COP26 Summit, and the EU Green Deal in sectoral regulations. At the same time, the Regulation, which should be interpreted together with the Convention on International Civil Aviation (also known as Chicago Convention) signed on December 7th, 1944 in Chicago, intends that the authorities take legal measures to combat climate change and closely follow the adaptation processes regarding the issue and integrate the aviation industry into sustainability compliance processes.
Kemal Altuğ Özgün