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Thursday, June 30, 2011

European Union Plans To Regulate GHG's From Airplanes

The European Union's plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes. The 27-country bloc's plan to regulate airline emissions at talks in Oslo under EU law, requires any airline operating to or from an EU airport after January 1 to participate in the bloc's cap-and-trade system.

The Obama administration opposes the plan on grounds of jurisdiction, imprecision in the program's rules and other issues.  The U.S. government and U.S. airlines contend the legislation shouldn't apply to U.S. carriers, arguing the EU lacks jurisdiction over foreign companies outside its borders. Other countries, including China and Russia, also oppose the EU program on sovereignty grounds.  The U.S. considers the plan to be "the wrong way to pursue the right objective" and argues Europe should pursue its goals through the United Nations' aviation agency. EU officials have said work in the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization is moving too slowly and is insufficiently ambitious.

A top EU court on Tuesday will hear a case brought by U.S. carriers through their trade group, arguing the EU regulation violates international law. Washington isn't a party to the suit at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, but opposes the EU law.
The EU plan allows foreign countries to adopt "equivalent measures" to control airline emissions. U.S. diplomats in Oslo presented EU officials with a list of detailed questions about the airline-emissions program, including how equivalent measures would be assessed. EU officials replied foreign countries should propose their own measures, and the EU will assess them, according to people who were at the talks. Washington and U.S. airlines worry this approach lacks objectivity and one country's airlines could face tougher measures than others.
 
The EU's plan offers the U.S. a way to meet a commitment made by the administration of President Barack Obama in 2009 to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 17% in 2020 from 2005 levels and to help raise $100 billion annually by 2020 to fight global warming. Under the EU plan, 15% of pollution credits for airlines will be auctioned off, potentially raising several hundred million dollars that could go toward the funding target. The other 85% of credits are being given without charge.  (WSJ, 6/30/2011)

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