EU court rejects challenge to airline emissions charges

December 21, 2011 by Roddy Thomson
The European Court of Justice threw out a case brought by north American airlines against a new EU system charging airlines for carbon emissions.

Europe's top court on Wednesday threw out a US-led challenge to new charges for carbon emissions across EU airspace, opening up fears of a possible trade war which could also draw in China.

North American had challenged a European Union decision to include as of January 1 all carriers in a system targeting heavy polluting industries as part of the EU's efforts against climate change.

US carriers had argued that the decision was discriminatory and amounted to a backdoor tax.

But the European Court of Justice ruled that the EU's approach was "valid," and that it "infringes neither the principles of customary international law at issue nor the Open Skies Agreement" covering trans-Atlantic flights.

Despite a clear threat of reprisals issued by US Secretary of State , the Luxembourg-based judges said that non-EU airlines could "choose" whether to make to and from EU airports.

As a result, the EU system "infringes neither the principle of territoriality nor the sovereignty of third states, since the scheme is applicable to the operators only when their aircraft are physically in the territory of one of the member states of the EU."

Furious US, Canadian and other carriers say their inclusion in the Emissions Trading System (ETS) violates international aviation pacts, but the European Commission said after the ruling that the ETS would enter force as scheduled.

"After crystal clear ruling today, EU now expects US airlines to respect EU law, as EU respects US law," EU commissioner Connie Hedegaard wrote on Twitter.

A high-ranking source in the aviation sector told AFP that "the court's judgment risks unleashing a trade war between Europe and the United States."

An American Airlines jet takes off at Los Angels International Airport, 2008. The European Court of Justice threw out a case brought by north American airlines against a new EU system charging airlines for carbon emissions.

Chinese and Indian airlines also said earlier this year they could launch similar cases.

In a letter to EU officials dated December 16, Clinton listed 43 nations from Argentina to Russia to Venezuela also opposed to the EU move.

"Halt or, at a minimum, delay or suspend application of this directive," she wrote. "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."

Already in October, the US House of Representatives passed a bill directing the US government to forbid US carriers to take part "in any scheme unilaterally established by the European Union."

Underscoring the potential for a significant trade row, China reportedly got its retaliation in early in June by blocking an order by Hong Kong Airlines for billions of euros worth of Airbus aircraft.

Airbus and rival US planemaker Boeing have already been locked horns in a seven-year-long battle over government subsidies at the World Trade Organization.

Under the EU scheme, airlines would have to pay for 15 percent of the polluting rights accorded to them in 2012, the figure then rising to 18 percent between 2013 and 2020.

UN agency the International Civil Aviation Organization last month urged the EU to exclude foreign carriers from the new rules.

In a statement Tuesday ahead of the ruling, European airlines already expressed fears of a damaging trade war should the EU executive stick to its guns.

"The real issue is political, not legal," said Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus of the Association of European Airlines (AEA).

"Even if the ECJ decides that the EU ETS conforms with EU law, this will not resolve non-European countries' vehement hostility," she said.

The case was brought by the Air Transport Association of America and the US airlines , Continental and United Airlines, joined by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the National Airlines Council of Canada.

The complaint was first filed in a British court, which then asked the EU court to state whether the directive was valid.

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1.7 / 5 (6) Dec 21, 2011
Despite efforts by world leaders to distract attention away from real problems, like the world's collapsing economy . . .

The Great Reality that surrounds and sustains us also causes natural changes in Earth's climate, . . .

Natural climate changes that are far beyond the control of world leaders and the army of government-funded scientists:


There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation
~ Herbert Spencer

3 / 5 (2) Dec 21, 2011
Once again you are referencing a prayer associated with a prison outreach group as support to a scientific and political statement. Not that I have a problem with prison outreach groups, I just would not use it as a reference if I were to make such a strong statement as above.
2 / 5 (5) Dec 21, 2011
It isn't really all that surprising that the "European Court of Justice" is in on the scam.

So if you're an American air carrier, want to service Europe, and don't want to be part of the carbon trading scheme - tough!

Sad, but yet another reason to let Europe face the consequences of its actions.
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 21, 2011
This is most likely EU's attempt to generate additional international money for the crumbling euro based economy. But, if you think about it, The EU would much rather switch to a carbon trade based market right now because the larger carbon emitting countries would wind up financing the EU for their high carbon emissions. Which is where the real issue is. The European Union is trying to force other countries into this trade system. And the EU can make vast amounts of money off a carbon based market while other countries don't use it yet. Once other countries adopt it, then there will be significantly less monetary exchanges and we will literally start trading carbon emission rights. The EU has to do this now though before things like solar power and alternate energies take hold and there are drastically lower carbon emissions globally. Carbon Trading has been planned for years. Its actually pretty damn cool to see an attempt to shift the entire global trade market to carbon unit
1.6 / 5 (7) Dec 21, 2011
One more step down the ladder for the EU fools. They are stepping into quicksand. The sooner the Socialist states of the EU collapse the better.
3 / 5 (4) Dec 22, 2011
Good for the Europeans! If foreign airlines don't want to pay the carbon tax for THEIR pollution, they should just stop servicing European destinations. I'm sure the European airlines would be only too happy to fill in the slack - that's free competition, isn't it? Foreign airlines will only have to pay for the pollution caused by their flights to/from European destinations, so they can just raise the fares to an appropriate level just as other companies cover the cost of their garbage collection.

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