(eTN) – The European Union’s stubborn insistence of sticking to their hugely controversial Emissions Trading Scheme, or in short ETS, has raised opposition from literally around the world, paving the way for a potentially damaging trade war between the EU and China, India, Russia, the United States, and now with the member countries of the Arab Air Carriers Association.
During the recent launch of flights to Kigali, Qatar Airways’ usually very outspoken CEO, Al Baker, answered to a question posed by this correspondent: “Qatar is a small country. We respect the right of the EU to set their own laws and regulations, but we will join our colleagues in the Gulf in what will be the best way to resolve this situation, which as met with opposition from around the world.”
Exactly that has happened now according to a source from Doha, when it became known that Qatar Airways has signed up to a resolution by the Arab Air Carriers Association, which met in Doha last week and released the following statement and demands, to which all member airlines had consented:
• A unilateral application of the EU ETS is violating the essence of the Chicago convention, which stipulates that the Air Transport relations between states need to be regulated by mutual consent and agreement.
• The resolutions of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have explicitly called upon states that wish to introduce initiatives in the environmental footprint of aviation, to do that in agreement with the other states whose institutions might be impacted by such initiatives.
• The fact that the ETS holds airlines of the world responsible for their emissions before the European authorities, contradicts with the principles of sovereignty of states over their national aerospace, and that national institutions of states are responsible before its own authorities and not the authorities of other countries.
• The EU’s attempts to impose its own policies on other states will only lead to conflicts and trade wars, which will not help the environment, the customer nor will it help the airlines. On the contrary, these attempts will negatively impact those stakeholders, thus negatively impacting as well the global economic activity.
• The environmental cause is a global one, and any solution thereof should also be global arrived at under the auspices of the concerned United Nations agency: ICAO.
• The Arab Air Carriers Organization is quite aware of the necessity to mitigate the environmental footprint of aviation and it supports taking global measures agreed upon within ICAO.
Said Mr. Al Baker at the end of the meeting: “There has to be a systematic approach to the implementation of any such scheme and, like many airlines around the world, we feel the European Union needed to take a step-by-step consultative approach before imposing programs and penalizing an aviation industry that plays a crucial role in driving economies.
Unlike in the case of for instance China, which has prohibited her airlines to pay for ETS charges, setting a collision course with the EU with the risk of flights between Europe and China coming to a halt should the EU Commission decide to throw the book at Chinese carriers not paying up, something also now considered by other major countries opposed to ETS, there is no indication if the GCC would make a similarly binding ruling for Gulf-based airlines at this stage, while negotiations over a suspension of the scheme are continuing.
Notably, Africa has not yet spoken out with one voice against the EU demands, although AFRAA in Nairobi has made it clear to governments on the continent that they must take a stand and come out in support of their airlines, all of which are incurring considerable added expenses for compliance, until a resolution can be reached under the auspices of ICAO, as had been proposed by literally all opponents.