The first climate change trade war?

The aviation industry accounts for about 3.5% of the world’s human-caused global warming. May not sound like a lot, but it’s equivalent to the entire United Kingdom. If the UK suddenly announced it would reduce its emissions by 46% by the year 2020, environmentalists would be pretty damn thrilled.

And so they were when the EU announced it was incorporating aviation into its Emissions Trading Scheme — with a gradually declining cap on airline emissions that would cut their CO2 output by … 46% by 2020. Europe, which seemingly can’t agree on anything these days, had agreed on this pretty substantial move.

But not everyone’s agreeing. The plan, which requires airlines to obtain an emissions permit for each ton of CO2 they release (though 85% of these permits are given to them for free), affects all airlines that fly into and out of Europe. The European airlines aren’t thrilled; the non-European airlines and downright pissed.

And so are 23 foreign governments, who convened in Moscow this week to issue a joint declaration that condemns the EU plan and pledges coordinated retaliation. Some are calling it an “all-out trade war” — the first global trade war over climate change.

I wrote about it for Der Spiegel — read it here.

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