New EU Emmision Rule “Infringes Sovereignty”

Airlines that do not follow a new European regulation on greenhouse gas emissions could find themselves banned from European airports. That’s according to the New York Times.

Nations like China and the U.S., along with nearly two dozen countries, have expressed opposition to the law covering all flights in and out of Europe, saying it infringes on their sovereignty, the Economist says.

According to the Times, Europe has offered to exempt incoming flights if airlines hail from nations with comparable requirements.

The new regulation went into effect on January 1. It brings aviation into the European Union’s Emissions Trading System, in which a small number of permits representing a ton of carbon dioxide each are bought and sold by polluters.

The Economist notes airlines contribute 2 to 3 percent of global emissions, but, until now, have been free to pollute.

European Commission spokesman Isaac Valero-Ladron told the Times a European ban would be a last resort for noncompliant airlines. Initially, they would face fines of 100 Euros per ton of carbon dioxide that falls outside the permit system.

The Times notes opponents in China and the U.S. will likely have to compromise to avoid a trade war. However, the House of Representatives has approved a bill barring U.S. airlines from participating in the system and a similar bill has been proposed in the Senate.

Aircraft maker Airbus and the Association of European Airlines have expressed concerns that a trade conflict could impact business.

Citing an Associated Press report, the Times says a Chinese official called for Europe to seek an international agreement on regulating aviation emissions.

Chinese airlines have not decided their next course of action. They have threatened to bring a lawsuit. They could argue the law violates the Kyoto climate agreement, the Times says.

Algeria has a case in France against the system, the Times notes.

American industry body Airlines for America says the new regulation will cost more than $3 billion by 2020 and it may file an additional suit, the Economist says. It filed a complaint in 2009, saying the law violated existing treaties. The European court dismissed most of the arguments, the Times says.

The U.S. may also consider a tariff on European carriers, but the Economist notes that is unlikely.

The Times says airlines need to show their emissions permits by April 30, 2013, which leaves plenty of time for compromise.

Describing it as “starting to look a trifle Y2K-ish,” the Economist also says that because airlines will initially be given most of their permits, they could actually end up making money as a result.

The Times says airlines will be able to pass on the cost to consumers in higher ticket prices. But airlines are concerned the cost of compliance could rise in coming years.

There is also a new EU plan to reduce the carbon intensity of transport fuel in which dirtier fuels like diesel derived from coal or Canadian tar sands would require mixing with cleaner fuels. Canada argues the proposal would punish it for being upfront about its fuels, whereas less transparent polluters like Nigeria would be able to avoid censure, the Economist says.

Another directive says biofuels, hydrogen and electricity should constitute 10% of transport fuels by 2020. But recent studies have shown biofuels are less green than previously thought because they are tied to tropical deforestation, resulting in growing momentum for the directive to be revised or scrapped.

To read the full article by the New York Times cited in this story, click here

To read the full article by the New York Times cited in this story, click here

To read the full article by the Economist cited in this story, click here

Tags: Policy

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