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ICAO rejects EU's right to impose emissions trading 'without mutual consent'

ATW Daily News by Aaron Karp 1 Oct.07

ICAO delegates supported a resolution at the organization's 36th Assembly last week stating that "emissions trading schemes should not be applied [by states and governing bodies such as the European Union] to aircraft of foreign countries without mutual consent," effectively rejecting non-EU airlines' participation in the EU's emissions trading scheme.

The EU expressed disappointment in the resolution and indicated it will move forward with attempting to impose the scheme, setting up a near-certain legal challenge by the US and other countries. EU transport ministers have said that any airline operating flights to or within the EU must participate in emissions trading (ATWOnline, June 11).

ICAO Assembly President Jeffrey Shane, US Dept. of Transportation under secretary for policy, said members do not object to the concept of emissions trading schemes as a tool to combat climate change. But he emphasized that ICAO members other than EU nations object to unilateral imposition of schemes.

Shane said the Assembly produced a "sea change" regarding the environment by establishing a "high-level group on emissions and climate change" that has been mandated to pursue an "aggressive program of action" to develop a framework "to inform states on reducing the carbon footprint of aviation." He explained that the framework will be "a cookbook" that will guide ICAO members and that the organization has "dramatically accelerated" the pace with which it will address climate change.

He conceded that the resolution on emissions trading schemes has "no binding force" and that "Europe has said it does not intend to be bound by the resolution."

Portuguese DG-Civil Aviation Luis Fonseca de Almeida, speaking on behalf of EU nations, said, "We are disappointed by the outcome and believe ICAO has abdicated the leadership role given to it in the Kyoto Protocol." European Commission VP-Transport Jacques Barrot added that ICAO's "record on aircraft emissions is simply not good enough."

IATA DG Giovanni Bisignani said ICAO delegates affirmed the principle that global consensus is necessary on environmental issues. "Europe's unilateral approach to emissions trading confuses taking leadership with taking cash," he said. "It is disappointing and irresponsible. Regional schemes will have, at best, limited impact on the environment. And their unilateral application to foreign airlines is a clear breach of the Chicago Convention."

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