Airlines and lawmakers in the USA to push US Airline-Emissions Bill – inspite of ETS climb-down
A day before is set to clear a bill to shield US airlines from the ETS, the Europeans capitulated in announcing a one year delay to the ETS. If a solution can’t be reached through ICAO by November 2013, then the EC says “we are back to where we are today with the EU ETS. Automatically.” The Democratic-led Senate passed the measure in September. On 13th November the House of Representatives, which is led by Republicans, is scheduled to clear the bill, but many, especially in the airline industry, viewed it more as leverage to get the EU to pull back its mandate. The airline industry had been pressing the White House to do more than just negotiate at ICAO — it had wanted the US to open a formal dispute with the EU over the mandate, known as article 84. When asked if the airline industry will continue to press the government to initiate article 84 even after the EU announcement, Airlines for America (A4A) said “Since the EU has insisted on keeping the threat of reimposing an illegal tax on US passengers and carriers, A4A will continue to urge that the US remain vigilant to ensure that all efforts are focused on finding a global solution through ICAO.”
EU postpones airline emissions rule
A day before Congress is set to clear a bill to shield U.S. airlines from an EU emissions regulation, the Europeans blinked. [ See EC freezes ETS for airlines flying to and from Europe till November 2013 if there is then progress by ICAO ]
Monday, the European Commission recommended delaying for a year applying its emissions trading scheme to non-EU airlines. The idea is to give the ICAO, an international standard-setting body for aviation, time to come up with a global approach to aviation-derived climate change.
Whether that can be achieved remains to be seen. Much of the reason the European Union pushed its carbon mandate for airlines was because pursuit of a global solution at ICAO had dragged on for years without success.
Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s commissioner for climate action, echoed that idea in a statement and suggested that encouraging nations to deal inside an ICAO framework is a good outcome for the EU. “Now, it seems that because of some countries’ dislike of our scheme, many countries are prepared to move in ICAO, and even to move toward a market-based mechanism at global level,” Hedegaard said.
She said if a solution can’t be reached through ICAO by November 2013, “then needless to say we are back to where we are today with the EU ETS. Automatically.”
The House of Representatives on Tuesday is scheduled to clear a bill to shield U.S. airlines from complying with the EU mandate, but many, especially in the airline industry, viewed it more as leverage to get the EU to pull back its mandate.
Jean Medina, spokeswoman for Airlines for America (A4A), called her group “cautiously optimistic” about the EU’s announcement.
“As we have said consistently, we believe a global-sectoral approach through ICAO is the best way to address aviation emissions, and at the same time we are hopeful Congress can move forward on legislation opposing the EU ETS,” Medina said.
The airline industry had been pressing the White House to do more than just negotiate at ICAO — it had wanted the U.S. to open a formal dispute with the EU over the mandate, known as article 84. The administration has thus far been reluctant to take that approach, although it opposes the mandate on sovereignty grounds.
When asked if the airline industry will continue to press the government to initiate article 84 even after the EU announcement, Medina responded: “Since the EU has insisted on keeping the threat of reimposing an illegal tax on U.S. passengers and carriers, A4A will continue to urge that the U.S. remain vigilant to ensure that all efforts are focused on finding a global solution through ICAO.”
Annie Petsonk, the international counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, attended the ICAO meeting last week at which the council adopted documents and put forward options on a global solution on controlling airline emissions. But, she said, “before we can actually design the mechanism, we need a decision on some of the political questions.”
Those questions haven’t just been raised by the U.S. China, India and Russia, among others, have also stepped up to oppose the EU’s unilateral scheme. Petsonk has long been predicting ICAO would be confronted with the decision, likening the process to past global environmental law cases that began with bilateral bickering but eventually spawned a global dialogue.
That means the U.S. should not yet be patting itself on the back about forcing the EU’s hand.
“The EU didn’t say, ‘We’re ending the system.’ They said, ‘We’re giving the ICAO process time’” to work on the issue, Petsonk said.
That means congressional action on a bill that has been in a recess-induced lull for weeks is likely to pass Congress just days after the real progress was made internationally. “It’s like a Fifth of July firecracker,” Petsonk said of the bill.
For now, the House is set to vote Tuesday on the bill shielding the airline industry, which will clear for President Barack Obama’s signature. A House Republican aide confirmed the bill is still expected to move Tuesday, but with the usual caveat that things can change at the last minute.
Justin Harclerode, spokesman for House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.), said of the EU action: “It’s a positive sign, although only a temporary freeze. We should press forward to ensure this scheme can’t be imposed in the future.”
Airlines, Lawmakers to Push U.S. Airline-Emissions Bill
The House plans to consider legislation barring U.S. airlines from paying penalties in a European Union plan to cut carbon emissions, a day after an EU commissioner proposed halting implementation of the program.
“Fortunately, EU leaders who have promoted imposing an unjust tax on international aviation have temporarily backed off the emissions tax proposal,” Representative John Mica, a Florida Republican and chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in a statement. “I intend to ensure U.S. operators, airlines and consumers are not stuck with a future unfair tax burden.”
The House of Representatives, which is led by Republicans, is scheduled to vote today on legislation that would ensure U.S. airlines aren’t subject to fines under the program unless an international framework is negotiated. The Democratic-led Senate passed the measure Sept. 22.
“The EU’s announcement still does not recognize that its system is illegal and that a global solution, not just one deemed acceptable by the EU, must be the path forward,” Senator John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, said yesterday in a statement.
Thune introduced the bill in the Senate.
U.S. airlines, including Delta Air Lines Inc., have lobbied for the U.S. legislation, arguing the EU’s plan to expand its emissions trading system, or ETS, to cover foreign carriers amounted to a tax that violated international law.
“Delta favors a global approach to the issue of aviation emissions,” Trebor Banstetter, a spokesman for Atlanta-based Delta, said yesterday in a statement. “Delta continues to support legislation from Congress opposing the EU ETS.”
EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said yesterday she was recommending a delay in implementation of greenhouse-gas curbs on flights in and out of Europe in order to “create a positive atmosphere” for talks to establish a global market- based mechanism to reduce carbon emissions.
Russia, China and the U.S. had objected to a planned expansion of the EU emissions trading system.
Airlines for America, a Washington-based group that represents carriers, said that it was “cautiously optimistic.”
“We believe a global sectoral approach” through International Civil Aviation Organization “is the best way to address aviation emissions,” Jean Medina, a spokeswoman for the group that includes Delta among its members, said in an e-mailed statement.
The group is still urging Congress to pass legislation shielding U.S. airline carriers from the EU measure, she said.
The Thune bill is S. 1956.