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Threat Of Global Trade War Over EU Carbon Tax On Airlines

The threat of an aerospace trade war between Europe and the rest of the world has escalated after India joined China in threatening retaliation over the European Commission’s carbon emissions charges.

Chinese airlines have cancelled $14bn (£8.8bn) of orders with European aircraft manufacturer Airbus following the introduction of the charges and a senior Indian official has now warned there are “lots of measures” that India could take if the EC does not back down.

“The question is, are you [the European Union] provoking the world into a trade war?’,” the official told Reuters.

The EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) requires airlines flying to or from Europe to buy carbon permits to offset their emissions from January 1 this year. However, non-European governments are furious that the charges cover the entire flight and not just European aerospace.

It is understood that India has told its airlines not to buy carbon credits from Europe or share emissions data, although it has not ordered the cancellation of orders from Airbus, which dominates the Asian aerospace market. India is also prepared to impose steep charges on European airlines to fly into India if Indian airlines are blocked from flying into Europe because of the ETS. “We have the power of the economy. We are not bleeding as they are,” the Indian official added.

Airlines are due to receive their first charges under the scheme in April next year, therefore there is still time for a compromise agreement.

The US, Russia, and Thailand have also criticised the ETS, while European airlines and Louis Gallois, the chief executive of Airbus’s parent company EADS, have warned it is hurting profits.

However, the EC says it will only change the legislation if there is an “ambitious” global agreement to cut carbon emissions from airlines.

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