Foreign airlines are threatened with a flight and landing ban from 2012 in the European Union if they do not participate in emissions trading.
The ban is proposed in an internal document by the EU Commission seen by Handelsblatt. Summarised on nine pages, the guidelines describe how such a ban could be implement. The Commission considers a flight and landing ban as a last resort to make the airlines surrender over its Emissions Trading Scheme.
An EU Directive stipulates that airlines from Europe and third countries are mandated to be included in the trading of emissions rights. On their flights to and from Europe, they may then only emit as much CO2 as the CO2 certificates they hold. 85 percent of the certificates are free of charge while 15 percent of the allowances have to bought via auctions.
“The whole project has not been thought through. The EU cannot impose its law on third countries,” Holger Krahmer, environmental spokesman for the German Liberal Party in the EU Parliament told Handelsblatt.
In fact, international resistance against the EU plan is growing. Several American, Asian and African airlines are suing the EU over its emissions trade project. The US Aviation Association ATA is attempting to have the policy suspended by the European Court of Justice. And the Russian government has also voiced its displeasure in Brussels.
Not even critics of the project believe that the European Commission will actually ban flights by American and other foreign airlines. “They will use it as leverage, and accept compensation measures,” estimates Liberal MEP Holger Krahmer. The EU Commission is looking for a face-saving way out: “What remains are the costs of CO2 allowances, which will only burden European airlines and make them uncompetitive” Airlines such as Lufthansa and Air Berlin had already warned of this danger in the legislative process.
“The EU has once again overestimated itself,” said Krahmer. “The project was not thought through. The EU cannot impose its legal authority on third countries.”
At the end of September, the general assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) will take place. Some countries, such as the U.S. want to adopt a resolution, which will make clear that emissions trading systems may only be applied by mutual agreement.
“Greenhouse gas emissions have increased dramatically, particularly in air traffic,” said Social Democrat MEP Matthias Groote. The climate expert warns against granting exemptions to noncompliant airlines from third countries. “If the U.S. and other countries try to suspend the EU emissions trading regime for third countries, it would lead to a huge distortion of competition for European airspace.” It is more important than ever to integrate international aviation into the EU’s emissions trading system. After all, the emissions of greenhouse gases in air traffic have doubled in the past two decades.
The EU Directive, which includes aviation in emissions trading, is part of a package of regulations with which the EU wants to meet its climate protection goals. Emissions of greenhouse gases should fall by a fifth by 2020 under the 1990 level […]
The inclusion of aviation in the Emissions Trading Scheme will impact consumers too. According to calculations by the EU Commission, a ticket for a return flight within the EU could become more expensive by up to nine Euros because of emissions trading. For long-haul flights, larger price increases can be expected, a return ticket to New York could be up to 40 Euros more expensive. [transl. Philipp Mueller]