U.S. airlines are challenging the European Union’s climate regulations on their greenhouse gas emissions. EU wants to head the world’s climate change battle. It said there should be a price on carbon dioxide emissions for the protection of the climate and to stop droughts, flooding and effects against crops. Effective January 2012, airlines flying to and from Europe will need to secure Emissions Trading Scheme permits for 15% of carbon emissions. This scheme is already in place for 11,000 factories and power plants. On Tuesday, China censured the scheme for fear of a looming trade war.
The Air Transport Association of America (ATA) challenged the EU on its climate regulations citing breach of U.S. sovereignty and on illegal charge under the Chicago Convention international treaty on air travel. ATA lawyer Derrick Wyatt said the EU does not have competence to regulate third country airlines in third country airspace. Flight from San Francisco to London emits about 9% in the EU against 25% over the Atlantic, 37% over Canada and 29% over the U.S. EU lawyers said transatlantic flight emissions permits cost about 6 euros/passenger. Aviation was included in carbon market after airlines opted for the scheme over other tools like eco-taxes or jet fuel charges. Lawyer Eric White said a market-based system is the system that IATA and the airlines have always been urging, a system that is the most economically efficient, as they recognize themselves. EU lawyers also said most valid laws hardly affect third countries regarding visas or passengers’ data in the U.S. but that doesn’t make them illegal. Additionally, Britain’s Sam Wordsworth said truck drivers in Europe are not to drive nine straight hours in a day even if the initial travel is outside the EU.
Airlines argue that emissions discussions should be confined in U.N. bodies like the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Its rules are clearer about prevention of illegal charges on each other’s airlines. EU lawyers said ICAO rules separate ETS from other charges like eco-taxes or jet fuel levies. According to environmentalists, the resolution to aviation emissions had been overdue for 14 years and airlines should not counter the sole important regulation.