EU unyielding on airline carbon despite US pressure

Dec 20, 2011
An airplane prepares to land in Congonhas, Sao Paulo's domestic airport, in 2009. The EU will go ahead with its hotly contested plan to charge airlines for carbon emissions despite US threats of reprisal, should it win the backing of the European Court of Justice, EU sources said Tuesday.

The EU will go ahead with its hotly contested plan to charge airlines for carbon emissions despite US threats of reprisal, should it win the backing of the European Court of Justice, EU sources said Tuesday.

"There's no question of giving up," an EU official told AFP on condition of anonymity. "It's been approved by the European Union."

The European court is to rule Wednesday on an EU decision to include from January 1 all airlines in its System (ETS), which furious US, Canadian and other carriers say violates and aviation pacts.

As the deadline looms, US Secretary of State joined a mounting chorus of opposition with a warning of "appropriate action."

"We strongly urge the EU and its member states ... to reconsider this current course," Clinton said in a letter sent to EU counterpart Catherine Ashton last week, that was obtained by AFP.

"Halt or, at a minimum, delay or suspend application of this directive," she said. "Re-engage with the rest of the world."

"The United States stands ready to engage in such an effort. Absent such willingness on the part of the EU, we will be compelled to take appropriate action."

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, refused comment on the letter ahead of the decision by the Luxembourg-based court.

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3 / 5 (2) Dec 20, 2011
If the EU wants to hamstring their own transportation industry, isn't that their business? Add TSA-style security procedures, and EU travelers will be riding bicycles for the borders.
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2011

The reason that the US is opposed is because the EU plan would include forcing US based flights landing in the EU to pay the fees. Keep in mind that the majority of flights are cargo, not passenger (UPS, etc.) So, in order to get to Russia or the Middle East, we would be forced to pay fines to support the EU trading scheme or buy carbon offsets on their market. It is the equivelant of placing a trade tarrif on US based air transportation. Trade tarrifs are commonly responded to with an equal and opposite tarrif in return. The message Clinton is sending is basically "Go ahead, try it. See where that gets you". The net result of tarrifs is usually an increase in price for consumers, leading to an overall decrease in consumption, which eventually neutralizes the revenue from the tarrif and hurts commerce in general. It would certainly reduce emissions from air transportation, but not in the way they want.
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2011
I have a second thought about whether this would decrease emissions. There is the possibility that carriers could re-route flights to avoid the EU fine and thereby increase emissions due to them going out of their way. It's a simple numbers game, and I'm sure that someone smarter than me could figure out the outcome. It's a simple calculation of whether it is cheaper to pay the fine or fly around the EU. Unitended consequences.
2 / 5 (4) Dec 21, 2011
Although global temperatures have generally increased since the Last Little Ice Age, CO2-induced global warming has not been observed:

See http://judithcurr...pdate-ii
not rated yet Dec 21, 2011
Economically this will be another nail in the coffin of a dying industry. Generally it is time sensitive freight that is shipped via air, most material that isn't spends most of it's intercontinental trip on a boat. I beleive most trips to Russia are flights over the North Pole, the middle east could go through Africa without too much extra effort. But considering the amount of trade with Europe and passenger flights (no doubt there will be a line added to your statement titled "carbon tax")this could get ugly.