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China refuses to comply with new EU airline emissions scheme

China refuses to comply with new EU airline emissions scheme

The Chinese government has barred their airlines from complying with the new EU legislation that would see all airlines operating from European Union airports pay an emission charge.


Aviation to become part of the EU emissions trading system

The Chinese decision stems from the European Union’s intent to bring aviation into the EU emissions trading system from the start of 2012 onwards.

The EU emissions trading system or EU ETS is a tool of reducing industrial greenhouse gas emissions in the Europe in a cost effective way, by imposing caps. Under EU ETS entities emitting CO2 have a limit on the total amount of certain greenhouse gases they can produce, receiving emission allowances within this limit which they can sell to or buy from one another as needed, or bank for future use should they have a surplus.

Just like industrial installations, airlines arriving or departing from an EU airport will now be required to reduce their emissions or buy additional allowances for emissions beyond a set level.

Should airlines not comply, they will face heavy fines, with repeating offenders even banned from EU airports.


‘Contrary to civil aviation regulations’

The inclusion of aviation into EU ETS is necessary, argues the European Commission, as an average return international flight generates approximately the same level of emissions as the average person in the EU does by heating their home for a whole year.

However, weary of additional costs of being included in ETS, the Chinese government has now prohibited all Chinese airlines from participating in the scheme without government approval, China’s State Council said on its website.

The EU emissions scheme is “contrary to relevant principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the international civil aviation regulations” reads the statement, adding that China will “consider taking necessary measures to protect the interest of the Chinese public and businesses”.


Overstepping the legal jurisdiction?

China is not the only one that sees the inclusion of foreign airlines in the emissions scheme problematic, reports Reuters.

As an airline’s carbon cost is calculated over the length of the entire journey, not just within European air space, the scheme has led to accusations by the United States, China, India and others that the European Commission has over-stepped its legal jurisdiction.

To this end a number of USA airlines unsuccessfully challenged the inclusion of foreign airlines in EU ETS before the European Court of Justice in December 2011.  The verdict has since been denounced by the US government, who, similarly to China, is also considering forbidding their airlines from complying with the scheme.

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