Emissions policy upsets airlines

he Canadian government has vowed to keep up its fight against the European Union’s emissions trading scheme that could cost Canadian and inter-national airlines billions of dollars in EU airspace emissions fees.

Emboldened by the European Court of Justice’s Dec. 21 decision, the European Com-mission has told airlines to get ready for the new law, sparking fears of an international trade war.

Under the EU scheme, all air-lines, regardless of their country of origin, would have to pay for 15 per cent of the polluting rights accorded to them in 2012, the figure then rising to 18 per cent between 2013 and 2020.

Airlines say the move would cost them billions of dollars.

“At this time of economic uncertainty, actions should not come at the price of inter-national aviation, which plays such an important role in all of our economies,” Transport Minister Denis Lebel wrote in a Dec. 8. letter to Slim Kallas, vice-president of the EU Com-mission for Transport.

Lebel also emphasized Canada’s opposition to the EU’s “unilateral” approach to tack-ling emissions in the airline industry.

He urged his European counterpart to abandon the plan and to join the international community in developing a global approach for tackling emissions in the air-line industry under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency. Action plans from ICAO members are expected next June.

On Wednesday, the European Court of Justice rejected the legal challenge by U.S., Canadian and international airlines that called the EU proposal a violation of several international aviation agreements by imposing unfair penalties on non-EU carriers.

Canada is joined by 26 countries, including the U.S., China, Brazil and India, which signed a joint-ICAO declaration in September opposing the plan.

Upon hearing the decision, the National Airlines Council of Canada expressed its “disappointment,” saying it will begin talks with the Canadian government and other aviation powers “in earnest,” NACC president George Petsikas told Postmedia News.

Charging fees for non-EU planes flying in EU airspace is “illegal under international law because emissions produced in international air space over high seas, that territory does not belong to the EU,” Petsikas said.

Last month, the ICAO urged the EU to exclude foreign carriers from the new rules.

Meanwhile, a trade war could soon be on the horizon after strong language from both sides.

The European Court of Justice defended the EU’s approach as “valid,” and that it “infringes neither the principles of customary international law at issue nor the Open Skies Agreement” covering trans-Atlantic flights.

Non-EU airlines could “choose” whether to make commercial flights to and from EU airports, the court said.

Underscoring the potential for a significant trade row, in early in June, China blocked an order by Hong Kong Air-lines for billions of euros worth of Airbus aircraft.

But it’s not only non-EU par-ties that are worried about the new law: European airlines also have expressed fears of a dam-aging trade war.

source:The Vancouver Sun

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