Protests from non-European Union countries rallying against the planned inclusion of their airlines in Europe's emissions trading scheme from 2012 look set to increase as the date for implementation draws nearer.

The Air Transport Association of America's legal challenge to the ETS is due to be heard by the European Court of Justice on 5 July. China too has begun making its opposition to the scheme known.

"We're seeing a ramping up of political pressure from countries like China and the US," said Air Transport Action Group executive director Paul Steele, adding that "as the deadline gets closer we will see more and more of this opposition".

China has begun talks with the European Commission after Li Jiaxiang, chief of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, complained that the scheme discriminates against airlines from developing countries.

"Over the next few months it's going to be very interesting to see how the political situation evolves," said Steele. "A lot of non-EU states are concerned that Europe has imposed its system on their carriers, particularly on flights not over EU airspace. Most of these emissions are outside EU airspace, so we're seeing a lot of countries expressing concern."

While he does not believe the USA's challenge will yield a result before the emissions scheme kicks in on 1 January 2012, Steele is hoping for a ruling "before the end of 2012", ahead of the requirement for airlines to start purchasing emissions permits in 2013.

The International Air Transport Association, which is a member of ATAG, is opposed to the EU trading scheme and is calling instead for the development of a global emissions trading mechanism through the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Source: Flight International