Group of nearly 30 countries resolves that each would take its own measures against the emissions trading scheme
Retaliatory measures against the EU may include halting negotiations over new routes for member states’ airlines. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Countries opposed to the inclusion of airlines in Europe’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) have vowed to take retaliatory measures against the EU, which may include halting negotiations over new routes for member states’ airlines.
A group of nearly 30 countries, including the US, China and India, met in Moscow on Wednesday to discuss what actions they would take. They resolved that each country would take its own measures against the scheme. These could include sanctions against European airlines or the opening up of a trade war.
But Europe’s climate chief, Connie Hedegaard, criticised the meeting for failing to agree to any alternative way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.
Valery Okulov, Russia’s deputy transport minister, told Reuters news agency: “Every state [represented at the meeting] will choose the most effective and reliable measures which will help to cancel or postpone the implementation of the EU emissions trading scheme.”
Ongoing discussions over new routes and landing rights in the countries represented could be one casualty of the talks.
Some governments, including China, have told their airlines not to participate in the scheme. However, the EU said that airlines from the countries represented had complied with the rules so far, by submitting the data needed for their inclusion in the scheme.
The governments opposing the ETS argue that the trading scheme constitutes a tax, which would be forbidden under longstanding international agreement, but the EU says a trading scheme is different, in part because companies can avoid paying for carbon permits by reducing their emissions.
Europe’s top court ruled last December that the extension of the emissions trading scheme to airlines based outside the EU was legal.
Hedegaard has repeatedly called for the countries opposing the inclusion of aviation in the emissions trading scheme to bring forward a proposal for an alternative, which she said the EU would be willing to consider. Talks under the International Civil Aviation Organisation have for years failed to produce agreement on a worldwide method of pricing carbon for airlines, or for reducing their emissions by other means.
Without such an agreement, Hedegaard argues that the EU is justified in demanding that airlines with flights taking off or landing within its borders should participate in the scheme, under which they must submit carbon permits for every tonne of CO2 they produce on those flights. A proportion of the permits are granted to the airlines for free but the rest must be bought at auction or from other companies with spares.
She told the Guardian: “The EU will not be threatened into changing our law.”
Estimates show that the cost to airlines is likely to be between €5 and €10 for each passenger, which represents only a small addition to ticket prices for international flights.
Author: Fiona Harvey
Source: The Guardian