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Airline lawsuit against European ETS moves forward

ATW Daily News by Perry Flint 28 May 2010

The US airline industry won a small but significant victory in its bid to challenge the legality of the EU's plan to apply its Emissions Trading Scheme to non-EU airlines yesterday when the English High Court of Justice said it would refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

The Air Transport Assn. and three member carriers--American Airlines, Continental Airlines and United Air Lines--brought suit last December in the High Court against the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change because most American carriers are assigned to the UK for participation and compliance in the ETS (ATWOnline, Dec. 22, 2009).

The plaintiffs argued that unilaterally extending the rule to non-EU airlines violates the Chicago Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the US-EU open skies agreement and is "contrary to the customary international law principle that each state has complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above its territory."

ATA VP-Environmental Affairs Nancy Young called the decision "an important step, as only the ECJ has the authority to rule on the Europe-wide directive that applies the European Emissions Trading Scheme to our airlines. The unilateral extension of the EU ETS to international aviation is contrary to international law both as an extraterritorial action and an improper tax or charge. It also clearly stands in the way of an appropriate and effective global solution."

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