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U.S. House votes to ban EU ETS participation

By Hpanchal on October 26, 2011

In a landslide vote, members of the U.S. House of Representatives have voted to prohibit U.S. carriers from participating in the European Union emissions trading scheme. The passage of H.R. 2594 on October 24 has raised the ire of numerous EU officials — especially Jo Leinen, chair of the European Parliament’s environmental committee. The ETS is currently set to go into effect on January 1.

Blasting Congress’s ruling as “arrogant and ignorant,” Leinen stated that U.S. officials should respect EU legislation similarly to how EU officials respect U.S. law. He also encouraged the EU to remain steadfast in the face of adversity. “The EU should stand firm and include international aviation in EU emissions trading,” Leinen stated.

If the bill becomes law, he promotes retaliation. “The EU should refuse to be blackmailed and resort to countermeasures, if necessary,” Leinen concluded.

His views deviate greatly from those of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica and Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri. Both Congressmen dismissed the ETS, which forces carriers utilizing European airspace to monitor their emissions and purchase carbon allowances if the flight exceeds a predetermined limit, as “unlawful and unjust.”

“This appropriately named EU scheme is an arbitrary violation of international law that disadvantages U.S. air carriers and kills U.S. aviation jobs,” Mica said in a statement. “The message from Congress and the U.S. government is loud and clear: The United States will not participate in this ill-advised and illegal EU program.”

Petri concurred. To him, imposing such a tariff on international airlines is completely out of the EU’s realm of authority and excludes the rest of the world. Instead of participating in the EU’s “unilateral and questionable ETS program,” Petri encouraged the U.S. to fight climate change by partnering with the International Civil Aviation Organization.

His view seems to be more on par with the rest of the global aviation community than Leinen’s. Officials from The International Air Cargo Association and the International Air Transport Association have also criticized the EU ETS as a moneymaking scheme and endorsed a global approach led by the ICAO.

“We firmly believe that aviation emissions must be addressed through a global framework and that the appropriate body for developing such an approach is the ICAO,” TIACA Vice Chairman Oliver Evans said in a statement.

“The Kyoto Protocol designated ICAO as the body with authority to set international aviation’s greenhouse gas policy," he continued, "and we urge all ICAO members to expedite negotiations to expand on, complete and implement such a global framework to address aviation carbon emissions.”

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