Representatives of 29 countries assembled in Moscow/Russia agreed on a range of counter-measures targeted at stopping or at least delaying the European Union’s inclusion of aviation in its emissions trading system.
The long-running battle between the EU and others may now find its way to to the International Civil Aviation Organization for adjudication.
“Every state will choose the most effective and reliable measures which will help to cancel or postpone the implementation of the EU ETS,” Russia’s Deputy Transport Minister Valery Okulov said in a briefing immediately after the meetings. Russia intends to “get the EU’s carbon trading measures either cancelled or postponed.”
The country, like China, is preparing legislation that forbids its airlines to participate in the ETS. Russia will also look at limiting Siberia overflights for European airlines in an effort to step up the pressure (Russia was forced to ease its limits on Siberian overflights as part of its World Trade Organization accession process).
In response to the Moscow meeting, a European Commission official says they have not received a full account of the outcome and possible countermeasures, but he challenged the participants and critics to propose a credible alternative. “What are your concrete and constructive alternatives for a global meeting at ICAO?”
The EU would defend its legislation during an ICAO battle. “We are completely sure...that our legislation does not bridge any principal of international law, including ICAO principals.” And, he adds, “we are confident the ICAO dispute procedure will side with us.”
The Moscow meeting was the second such gathering after an initial conference staged in Delhi/India last fall. It will be followed by a third conference in Saudi Arabia in the summer. The group of the 26 includes the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, India, China and Russia, amongst many others. India has previously said that it is considering opening bilateral air service agreements with European countries with the aim of limiting EU carriers‘ access to India. The country already does not allowoperations in the country, officially for lack of infrastructure. China has held back a Hong Hong Airlines A380 order for some time, although that has now been confirmed.
EU ETS took effect in 2012, but airlines are not due to submit carbon certificates until early 2013. If airlines can not provide allowances to cover their CO2 emissions they face financial penalties.
The group of countries opposing the EU, as well as industry bodies such as the(IATA), have been calling for a global approach to dealing with aviation’s CO2 production through ICAO rather than a unilateral approach. But the European Commission has not given any indication it is willing to change its mind. Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard stated the EU was willing to accept the so-called “equivalent measures” in which third countries prove their environmental engagement. She also stated that “nobody is happier than the European Union if we could have such a (global) regime.”
The EC spokesman adds that “the EU will review its legslaition the day there is an ambition global agreement in force.”