ATW Editor's Blog

Europe’s pursuit of ETS is not green; it’s a fundraiser


The more Europe “stands its ground” – its term on aviation emissions taxes, the more ridiculous it looks, not to say downright unstatesmanlike.

As if the whole saga of the European Commission’s unbelievable stance on its emissions trading scheme – EU-ETS – could not get more astonishing, the European parliament’s environment committee said today it would back EC proposals to impose an emissions tax on those parts of long-haul flights that are in European airspace.

What this will achieve, or the logic of it, is very hard to make out. The parliament's own transport and industry committees are against the proposal, fearing – quite rightly – severe international diplomatic retaliation and a potential trade war that would harm the European economy.

The foolhardy move also shows huge disrespect to ICAO and its membership, which is the properly recognized authority for global commercial aviation.

What it also demonstrates is that climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard was insincere when she made her infamous “stop the clock” announcement on ETS, saying she was willing to give ICAO the breathing space to forge an international agreement on aviation emissions. ICAO then accomplished that in September and the entire global aviation community applauded those who worked hard to make it happen, giving public credit to the EC.

As I’ve said before, Hedegaard poked ICAO in the eye with her rebuke of the ICAO MBM agreement so soon after it was made. Europe’s latest move shows the commissioner did not actually believe ICAO would be able to reach an emissions agreement and proves what was likely true all along. The EC’s true interests are not about the environment; they are about filling the treasury.

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