Air Transport Association Sues To Halt EU ETS

18.12.2009   (Aviation Week)
By Madhu Unnikrishnan

Three U.S. airlines and the Air Transport Association filed suit in a U.K. court Dec. 16 seeking to block implementation of Europe’s
greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme (ETS).

The suit was filed by ATA, Continental, American and United against the U.K.
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. It is the first legal action
brought by U.S airlines in a European court to halt the inclusion of international
aviation in the ETS. "We brought this action in order to preserve our members’
rights to challenge the implementation of the EU ETS as applied to aviation,"
said ATA spokeswoman Victoria Day.

ATA and the U.S. government have long opposed the implementation of emissions
trading by the EU. Citing strong international opposition to the ETS, Nancy Young,
ATA VP-environmental affairs, said, "Virtually all non-EU states continue to oppose
the unilateral application of the EU ETS to non-EU airlines." Airlines are calling for a global, sector-focused approach to mitigating greenhouse
gas emissions from aviation. "ICAO continues to be the appropriate United Nations
body for establishing climate change targets and measures for aviation."

The current EU plan calls for airlines to buy allowances starting in 2012 for
the carbon emitted during the entire distance of flights that land or take off
from the EU.   Airlines object to the plan, arguing that on a flight from Los Angeles
to London, for example, the majority of the emissions would occur outside EU airspace.

The EU contends that the ETS is the most effective available method of holding
down airline GHG emissions, at least until a global solution to the problem is
reached. Reacting to today’s lawsuit, an EU official told The DAILY on condition
of anonymity, "The [European] Commission regrets the action by the U.S. airlines as it considers
emissions trading represents the best solution for the aviation sector to mitigate
its climate impacts in the most cost-effective manner."

The official said the next step for the suit is uncertain. "We understand the U.K. courts could refer the matter to the European Court of Justice for an
interpretive ruling."

The official noted the irony of this action occurring the week of the U.N. climate
change talks in Copenhagen, which underscore the need for "all business sectors
– including airlines – to start working together toward operating in a low-carbon

"All large emitters of greenhouse gases, such as airlines, should therefore start
to acknowledge their corporate responsibility to reduce emissions," the EU official
link to article
The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) have produced a comment on the ETS, and its deficiencies.
(May 2009)

What’s wrong with the ETS?

The deal to include aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme from 2012 was
settled in July 2008, with some minor changes coming out of the Climate and Energy
Package in December.

The Government seems to think this means we no longer need to worry about aviation
emissions. AEF disagrees, and has produced a two-page summary of
What’s wrong with the ETS.

An updated summary showing the detail of the final deal is available here.