Aviation Coalition Asks Obama to Challenge EU Emissions Charges

A letter signed by 19 organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, asks President Obama to stop the EU from charging airplanes for their carbon emissions. Under the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), all airlines flying to and from Europe are required to buy permits for their emissions en route. The letter called for Obama to initiate an Article 84 proceeding in the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), in advance of the UN agency’s meeting from October 29 to November.

The letter calls an Article 84 proceeding an “appropriate and critical part” of the U.S. response to the EU ETS scheme. The ICAO, according to the letter, has a “proven track record of efficiently handling an Article 84 dispute while simultaneously advancing new environmental standards.”

Sent on September 17, the letter “strongly encourages” Obama to challenge international aircraft from being included under the EU ETS. There are two main reasons why the signers oppose the scheme, one of them being that the scheme violates U.S. sovereignty. The other reason is that the scheme would “lead to job losses in the aviation, manufacturing and travel industries.” In addition, the letter claims that opposing the scheme is the “right position for the environment, since it will foster implementation of a truly international approach to aviation greenhouse gas emissions that will produce a better environmental outcome than a unilateral scheme.”

Perhaps the EU itself will find an alternative to the scheme. Last week European officials voiced concerns about the EU aviation scheme. China and India both have banned their airlines from participating in the EU ETS, In addition, China has banned its airlines from buying European made aircraft, which has caused Airbus to be concerned.

“This conflict could become serious and Airbus could suffer deeply,” said Peter Hintze, a German deputy economy minister. “We must see that we find a way to avert this conflict before April 2013,” Hintze added.

“Airbus today has left us in no doubt that the threat of retaliatory action is a clear and present danger to their order list,” said Michael Fallon, Britain’s business minister. “We are very aware that the clock is now ticking,” he added. “It really is important that we find, across the world, a solution to this.”

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved legislation in August that would block U.S. airlines from complying with the EU ETS scheme. A similar bill already passed in the House of Representatives. If the Senate passes the bill, Obama just might sign it. As a Business Green article puts it, the bill presents a “political challenge to President Obama during election year, given he will be reluctant to spark a full-blown trade war with the EU, but will be equally keen not to be seen to be bowing to European environmental legislation that imposes additional costs on US airlines.”

What do you think? Should U.S. aircraft be subject to EU emissions charges?

Photo: emmadiscovery

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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