EU to stick to emission norm
BRUSSELS THE European Commission said on Monday it will stand by a new law that imposes charges on airline carbon emissions after China banned its carriers from paying for such permits.
“We are not backing down and this legislation will apply to companies operating in Europe,” said Isaac Valero- Ladron, spokesman for EU climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard.
Valero-Ladron warned that the law, which came into force January 1, carries fines for airlines that ignore it but he said the commission “remains confident” that Chinese airlines will comply with the rules.
All Chinese carriers “have complied with the legislation” so far and applied for free pollution permits handed out under the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), he said, adding that the airlines are set to receive the permits.
“It will be much more costly for any airline not to comply with the legislation than doing so,” the spokesman said.
Airlines receive 85 percent of their carbon permits for free but have to purchase the remaining 15 percent under the system. Refusing to participate can carry a fine of 100 euros per tonne of CO2 emitted.
The inclusion of airlines in the ETS system is opposed by the United States, China, India, Russia and other nations but the European Union has remained firm on its stance since the European Court of Justice backed the law late last year.
The EU says it decided to impose its own system to curb airline emissions since talks have so far failed to yield any global agreement.
Valero-Ladron said Brussels was “open to keep discussing with all partners their concerns,” including through the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
“I understand that some countries have concerns about the so-called unilateralism of this measure but I don’t think you can find a partner in the world who has fought harder than the European Union to get a global agreement done,” he said.
China’s State Council, or cabinet, announced on Monday a directive barring airlines from participating in the ETS “without the approval of relevant government departments.” Beijing fears its aviation sector will have to pay an additional 800 million yuan ($125 million) a year on flights originating or landing in Europe, and that the cost could be almost four times higher by 2020.