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. Read more of this post

The EU sticks it to the world

Here’s the background: Back in 2008, the EU, ever the climate trailblazer, devised rules to implement a carbon trading scheme for airlines. Beginning in January 2012, all airlines that fly into or out of European airports will have to buy emissions permits. The costs will be low at first but will rise considerably over the years, and they’re expected to be passed on to consumers. The idea being that airlines that don’t find ways to lower their emissions will see their prices rise and will lose business.

The airlines, predictably, don’t like this plan. They filed a suit against the new rules — and today, they lost. The European Court of Justice wrote in its ruling, “Application of the emissions trading scheme to aviation infringes neither the principles of customary international law at issue, nor the open-skies agreement.”

As industries typically do when they face new regulations, the airlines have complained that the “patchwork” rules will be hard to follow, and that it would be better to have a global emissions control plan. Naturally. But the EU got tired of waiting, and so it acted unilaterally.

Read more of this post

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