US carriers ramp up pressure over emissions trading

US carriers ramp up pressure over emissions trading

American Airlines has attacked the European Union emissions trading scheme (ETS) as “unwise” after US Congress members proposed a bill last week declaring the scheme incompatible with international law.

Airlines are due to join the emissions trading scheme in January. The Congressional bill seeks to direct the US Department of Transportation to prohibit US carriers from participating.

The European Commission (EC) has threatened sanctions against carriers that do not cooperate with the scheme.

American Airlines president Tom Horton accused the EU scheme of “layering more cost on an industry that is already beleaguered”, and said: “The way it has been proposed is unwise.”

British Airways’ US partner, American Airlines is a member of the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) which has challenged the scheme in the European Court of Justice.

The US carriers claim the scheme will violate the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation and argue it will regulate entire flights between the US and Europe when aircraft are in European airspace for only a fraction of a journey.

The EU will require all airlines flying into Europe to comply with the cap-and-trade scheme. Carriers will have to buy permits for each tonne of carbon dioxide they emit above a certain level, trading for permits with other emitters on a carbon market.

International Airlines Group (IAG) chief executive Willie Walsh warned in June that emissions trading could spark international reprisals. He said: “It is clear that countries are going to retaliate.”

The European Regions Airline Association (ERA), which includes Air France subsidiary CityJet, wrote this week to EC vice-president Siim Kallas to urge the scheme be withdrawn or suspended until there is agreement on implementation.

However, Virgin Atlantic came out firmly in support of airlines joining the ETS earlier this month. Virgin Atlantic general manager for legal affairs Julian Homerstone told a conference in London: “ETS is a sensible cap and trade system. It is not perfect, but it’s a good start.

“The European Union is taking a lead and we hope it becomes a serious model. It should be supported. It is a not a bad scheme.”


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