EU-US stalemate over ETS continues despite ICAO deal

The simmering row between the European Union and the USA over the EU’s plan to include foreign carriers in its emissions trading scheme from 2012 is showing no signs of abating, despite the fact that ICAO has finally succeeded in getting its 190 member states to sign up to a global emissions reduction framework.

And it all seems to boil down to interpretation.

The ICAO resolution calls for the development of a global framework to manage market-based measures (chiefly emissions trading) based on 15 agreed principles.

But while the Air Transport Association of America had hoped this would “obviate the need” for its legal challenge against the EU (in which it is trying to prevent the EU from including US carriers in its own ETS), the EU sees things very differently.

“Critically, the deal is a good basis for proceeding swiftly with the inclusion of aviation in the EU’s emissions trading scheme from 2012,” chirps the EU transport division.

So the EU has interpreted the fact that this time around ICAO has “refrained from language which would make the application of the EU’s ETS to their airlines dependent on the agreement of other states” as a green light to press ahead with its own ETS.

The ATA, on the other hand, believes the EU’s determination to “unilaterally impose” its ETS on foreign carriers is “contrary to the will of all other states and contrary to international law”.

So there you have it. Stalemate. Still.

However, the EC does seem to dangle a bit of carrot – throwing a line in to its press release saying that it will “engage constructively in dialogue with third countries” during the implementation of its ETS to discuss “how to deal with emissions from incoming flights from third countries”.

Could this be an olive branch to the US? Or will this turn into a big, ugly diplomatic nightmare? Watch this space, I guess!




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