Russia, Nations Agree on Retaliation to EU Airline CO2 Trade

Russia is considering limits on European flights over Siberia as countries approve possible retaliatory measures against the European Union’s move to force airlines to pay for carbon emissions.
Officials from 29 nations signed a declaration in protest against the EU law, Russia’s Deputy Transportation Minister Valery Okulov said today in Moscow during a two-day meeting of the opponents. The countries agreed on steps they may choose to take to protest the EU measures that came into effect this year.
“We intend to get the EU’s carbon trading measures either canceled or postponed,” said Okulov, who was previously chief executive officer of OAO Aeroflot, Russia’s biggest airline.
The 27-nation EU won’t abandon the expansion of its emissions trading system into international aviation in the face of opposition from nations outside the region, Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said Feb. 17. The first expansion of the EU emissions cap-and-trade program abroad has drawn fire from countries including China, the U.S., and Japan. Those countries, as well as Russia, signed the declaration today, Okulov said.
“Unfortunately, our question for Moscow meeting participants remains unanswered: what’s your concrete, constructive alternative?” Hedegaard said today on her Twitter Inc. account.
Siberian Airspace
Nations might challenge EU carbon trading under article 84 of the 1944 Chicago Convention, which governs international aviation, according to a Russian government statement distributed to reporters today.
Russia reserves the right to reject requests from EU carriers that seek to increase flights through Siberian airspace, giving preference to Asian airlines, Okulov said. Russia has heard the EU may limit flights of airlines that don’t pay for emission credits and allowances, he said.
“Undoubtedly, such a threat exists,” Okulov said. “The EU is considering serious sanctions, fines for aviation companies that don’t pay” for allowances, he said. “But common sense should prevail.”
Airlines have until the end of April 2013 to submit allowances to cover their 2012 discharges before facing possible fines or bans under the EU law. “We hope that this very last resort will never need to be applied,” Isaac Valero-Ladron, EU climate spokesman, said at a news conference today in Brussels.
‘Completely Sure’
Russian airlines may have to pay 20 million euros to 25 million euros a year under the EU measure, Okulov said. The protesting nations that signed today’s declaration also include Brazil, India, Argentina, South Korea, Thailand and Saudi Arabia, he said.
The EU will defend its legislation through the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization and is “completely sure” its rules are in line with international law, including the ICAO’s principles, Valero-Ladron said.
Countries should continue to work with the UN aviation body to start a global program to cut emissions from airlines, Valero-Ladron said. The bloc will revise its emissions-trading rules and scrap curbs on aviation once there’s a global deal to cover emissions from the industry, according to the EU law.
source: Bloomberg