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
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
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

English Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English Teacher - Saffron ...

Primary Supply Teacher - Northants

£90 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Primary School Supply Teache...

Maths Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Maths Teacher - Saffro...

Chemistry Teacher - Top School in Malaysia - January Start

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain