The European Commission is standing firm despite China’s latest reactions to the inclusion of aviation in the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) as of Jan. 1, and said that airlines must comply with EU law (ATW Daily News, Jan. 5).

“As the [European] Court of Justice confirmed last year, our law breaches basically no principles of international law and it is not extra-territorial. And it does not breach the principle of sovereignty,” EU spokesman for Climate Action Isaac Valero-Ladron said at the Commission's daily press conference in Brussels Thursday.

“If the Chinese want to do business in Europe, like open a restaurant or something, they have to comply with the health and the safety requirement. This is not that different. This is just that if you want to operate in Europe, you have to respect the law. You have to respect the environmental law. I think it is very, very clear,” he said. 

On Thursday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the country “opposes the European Union's unilateral legislation. China has expressed to the EU our deep concern and opposition many times on a bilateral level.” He added: “We hope the EU can take careful precautions with a cautious and practical attitude, and regarding those aspects involving China, appropriately discuss and handle this matter.”

The China Air Transport Assn. (CATA) reiterated this week that its member airlines would not cooperate with the ETS and would not pay the charge for their carbon emissions.

Valero-Ladron warned that “the law says clearly that if you miss the deadlines there are a few penalties. But we are confident that the companies and also their shareholders will comply with the legislation because as penalties for no compliance are much higher for basically the compliance of the legislation.”

He said it was up to airlines whether or not to pass on the costs of participating in the EU ETS to customers and noted the EC “estimated that on a long flight, price for one way could be increased from €2 ($2.60) to €12, and in Europe could be from €1 to €9.”

This week, the Lufthansa Group said it would pass on the cost of the ETS certificates to passengers in the fuel surcharge as of January. It has calculated the cost for this year for all group airlines at around €130 million ($169 million) (ATW Daily News, Jan. 5).