EU Emissions Trading System
ETS comes under more pressure
(eTN) - While some countries appear to have been quietly threatening the EU to block any agreements in upcoming climate talks to show their active disagreement to EU negotiators, should Brussels not refer their hugely controversial emission trading scheme to ICAO for moderation and to reach a globally-acceptable solution – ICAO and IATA have been working for over a decade to progress this topic while manufacturers have very significantly reduced emissions of new aircraft – the recent threats by the EU commissioner in charge of climate has fallen on deaf ears at best and met a steely resolve to let it come to a showdown with Chinese airlines.
Connie Hedegaard was quoted a few days ago having “words” with Indian and Chinese airlines refusing, which have the backing of their governments it should be pointed out, to comply with the EU’s controversial rules. Hedegaard gave the airlines in question, 8 Chinese and 2 Indian, up to mid-June to comply or else start the process of sanctions, which could include fines of 100 euros per ton of carbon not reported, but could in the worst case scenario include withdrawal of traffic rights or impounding of aircraft, a recipe for an immediate trade war when, as is predicted, in particular the Chinese government wades in and bans EU carriers from their own skies.
A broad coalition is forming worldwide, led by presently 20 hugely important countries including China, India, Russia and the US, but also including Brazil and others, which met last month in Moscow to strategize and coordinate a united response, when as expected the EU bureaucrats are pushed into a corner and start hitting out wildly with fines and bans.
Here in Africa,AFRAA has taken the lead, as African governments seem to shy away from making their position clear vis-a-vis ETS, something at least one government source in Eastern Africa described as: “…welcome; let the aviation industry formulate their concerns and the AU can then take it up instead of us small countries fighting with the EU. When there is enough opposition, we will know where to give our support to, because our airlines are important to us.”
India’s Aviation Minister Ajit Singh was quoted to have said: “You cannot enforce laws outside your sovereign area,” a clear signal that this may head to the international court over sovereignty issues besides prompting tit-for-tat exchanges on economic levels which could stifle growth and extinguish the already low flames of global recovery.
China’s Air Transport Association’s Director. General Zhenzhong, was also quoted in media reports that he blasted the EU’s ETS scheme as “unilateral action [which] lacks any basis to enforcement action and punishment,” like most of the 20 and their new followers from the Gulf and Africa also pointing to ICAO and IATA to formulate a globally-acceptable solution. It was not lost on this correspondent that Hedegaard’s assurance that the EU would like to see nothing better than such an ICAO-inspired solution, was at best a thinly-concealed misleading statement for the global aviation industry, as the EU persistently failed to constructively engage with ICAO and IATA over this issue for the past 10 years, clearly preferring their own bureaucrats’ own ideas and dictates to global consensus.
All eyes are now focusing on the mid-June date the EU has set when it threw the gauntlet to the Chinese airlines, and by definition, the Chinese government, as senior officials in Beijing have already in February declared that their airlines will be prohibited from compliance, mapping out a path for a major collision by the fast-emerging new world power China with the “old continent” of Europe.
One outcome though is certain, no matter what “bureaucrazy” EU civil servants do in June and thereafter, Europe has singlehandedly managed to unite the US with Russia, China, India, and others they often do not see eye-to-eye with, in their joint opposition to ETS, a fight with very likely one outcome, which will see Europe at the losing end, having to climb down from the untenable position it took and subject itself to the “ruling” by ICAO, when the global aviation regulatory body hands it a universally-supported draft for implementation.