EU judges back air emissions scheme

 

Europe's right to tackle pollution from all airlines using its airports does not breach international law, EU judges ruled today.

They threw out a challenge by a group of American and Canadian-based airlines and airline associations over an emissions trading scheme which includes even non-EU aircraft in rules designed to curb CO2 output.

The verdict will heighten transatlantic tensions in a week when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to help reverse the policy - warning of "appropriate action" by Washington if nothing was done.

But today's ruling from the European Court of Justice described the way the EU's emissions trading scheme is applied to the aviation sector as "valid".

The judges declared: "The uniform application of the scheme to all flights which depart from or arrive at a European airport is consistent with the provisions of the Open Skies Agreement designed to prohibit discriminatory treatment between American and European operators."

The Open Skies Agreement was concluded in April 2007 between America and the EU.

But when the UK implemented the EU emissions measures, the American Air Transport Association, American Airlines, Continental and United Airlines, supported by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the National Airlines Council of Canada, launched legal action in the High Court.

The matter was passed to European judges to answer the complaint that by including transatlantic aviation in the scheme, the EU violated principles of "customary international law" including "the freedom to fly over the high seas".

Today's verdict said that the emissions trading rules were "not intended to apply as such to aircraft flying over the high seas or over the territory of the member states of the EU or of third States."

It went on: "It is only if the operators of such aircraft choose to operate a commercial air route arriving at or departing from an airport situated in the EU that they are subject to the emissions trading scheme."

The judges said: "In this context, application of the emissions trading scheme to aircraft operators infringes neither the principle of territoriality nor the sovereignty of third states, since the scheme is applicable to the operators only when their aircraft are physically in the territory of one of the EU member states and are thus subject to the unlimited jurisdiction of the EU.

"Nor can such application of EU law affect the principle of freedom to fly over the high seas since an aircraft flying over the high seas is not subject, insofar as it does so, to the emissions trading scheme."

The ruling rejected the claim that US and Canadian aircraft - or any other non-EU aircraft arriving in the EU - should not be fully subject to the emissions trading scheme.

It said: "The fact that certain matters contributing to the pollution of the air, sea or land territory of the (EU) member states originate in an event which occurs partly outside that territory is not such as to call into question ... the full applicability of EU law in that territory."

Neither did the trading scheme amount to a tax, fee or fuel charge in breach of Open Skies rules which exempt aircraft from such levies.

The verdict was welcomed by German MEP Peter Liese, who said it meant the extension of emissions trading to aviation could now go ahead as planned on January 1 2012.

Mr Liese, who wrote a European Parliament report on the issue, said: "When we drafted the legislation, we took extensive legal advice, also concerning the compatibility with international law."

He said the US and Canadian airlines should now respect the court's ruling.

He said: "We have the law on our side, and we adopted this legislation after years of discussion. How could we justify to our citizens not implementing it just because of the pressure of the USA, China and others?"

He said the EU should now clarify that revenues generated by the emission trading scheme are spent for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and can be used to develop common projects with third countries.

Mr Liese said any rise in air ticket prices should be "marginal, if the airlines play fair".

About 85% of emissions trading certificates were allocated free, and carbon prices were currently low.

"The price increase for a flight from Europe to US east coast should be less than one euro. If an airline increases the price substantially more, they either fool their passengers by including the price of the certificates that they got for free, or they have a very old and dirty fleet," he said.

PA

Suggested Topics
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game