India plans to retaliate if the EU does not step back from its plans to introduce its emissions trading system (EU ETS) at the start of next year. “If they don’t call it off, we will retaliate,” Prashant Sukul, joint secretary of India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation, tells Aviation Week at the World Route Development Forum in Berlin.

The statement comes just days after a group of 26 countries issued a joint note demanding that the European Commission cancel the ETS. The group includes the U.S., China, Russia, India, Brazil, Nigeria, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The “joint declaration,” which was issued after a meeting in New Delhi, says European emissions trading is “inconsistent with applicable international law.” The group therefore urges the EU “to refrain from including flights by non-EU-carriers to/from an airport in the territory of an EU member state.” The paper also suggests the EU and its member states should “work collaboratively with the rest of the international community to address aviation emissions.”

If India is serious, then flights by European airlines to India could be curtailed. But that’s by far not everything. “People (in other countries) have ideas about retaliatory measures, and they will act their way,” Sukul says. “If Russia doubles the overflight charges, European airlines will be out of business,” he says. “They could no longer fly east of Europe.”

Sukul stresses that EU ETS will create major market distortions and “penalize the consumer at the end of the day” while putting “further stress on airlines, which are an easy target.” Sukul points out that while European officials have been trying to make their case, they have not listened to the concerns of other regions. “But it is a different call now having to deal with 26 countries and more coming.”

The commission has proposed accepting “equivalent measures” by other countries that could lead to ETS exemptions. But Sukul says that plan “makes the whole thing even dicier” because “it is they who judge if your measure is equivalent, and it opens the door for more discrimination.”

The group plans to meet again at the end of November, just a month ahead of the planned introduction of EU ETS. If Europe has not pulled back, the participants will decide on retaliatory measures, Sukul says. Some already have been implemented. China is blocking an order by Hong Kong Airlines for an Airbus A380.