US Aviation Told To Green Up Or Face An EU Ban On Landing Rights

March 19, 2008 at 2:43 pm 1 comment

A report in the Guardian reveals details of a row that’s brewing between the US and the EU aviation regulatory officials. The EU has issued a ‘green ultimatum’ to US airlines not participating in carbon dioxide emissions, saying they will be banned from landing in the European Union. But the Bush administration prohibits the airlines from carbon trading.

The EU warning came from the mouth of Jacques Barrot, the EU top aviation official. He issued his ultimatum as the airline industry is embarking on its most drastic transformation in 30 years. Technically all limits on flights between the EU and US are lifted this month under the Open Skies agreement, but the Europeans have for a while conditioned that the competition is subject to clear rules on carbon trading to offset pollution.

Negotiations about this will start their second phase next May. On the table is the demand that US companies participate in the EU emissions trading scheme or set up their own system. The US Bush administration is trying to protect their industry by requesting data on passengers overflying the US. The US officials cite security measures as the rationale behind the request, but the Europeans interpret this as a decoy. The US also refuses to allow airlines to join carbon trading schemes.

“It’s always possible to imagine reducing the number of flights or suspending certain rights,” Barrot said in comments that clearly indicate there’s a row brewing between the two continents. It is expected that once the Bush administration has gone, the objections to carbon trading will likely melt like snow in the sun. “[ ..] attitudes are changing. Particularly with Bush and Cheney gone, there is a real hope of things moving on. The new administration will be under pressure to take new measures,” Barrot told the Guardian.

The European Union is far ahead in carbon emissions trading compared to the US but even the Brussels plans are only implemented in 2012 at the earliest. It is expected that the costs involved in airlines’ efforts to offset their pollution by means of carbon trading will amount to roughly GBP13 per ticket.

The rules are not uncontroversial in the EU itself. The International Air Transport Association says that 170 countries oppose the move. The EU says that airlines that compete on airfares without trading carbons have an unfair competitive advantage which it won’t tolerate.

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Entry filed under: Green Economics.

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