Court adviser says European Union airline carbon cap will be legal

by Alister POOLE on October 7, 2011

Plans to include airline landings or takings off on European Union territory in a new emissions trading scheme will be legal, a key adviser to the European Court of Justice has confirmed.

Advocate General Juliane Kokott told at a press conference of how this was in response to legal challenges to the scheme made by North American airlines. Although the court isn’t going to rule until next year, this follows the opinion of the advocate general in most cases.

The new scheme is set to be begin sometime in January 2012 and is a notable extension of the European Union’s 2003 scheme for exchanging for greenhouse gas emission allowances, one of the key points of the continent’s climate change policy.

Critics argue that as part of the 1997 Kyoto climate pact, nations agreed to address any emissions from aviation unitedly through the ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization - the UN’s aviation body. Thus far, negotiations have yet to yield anything vaguely resembling progress.

It’s estimated that aviation currently accounts for 3% of all carbon dioxide emissions as airlines pay don’t pay tax on fuel. Ms Kokott said that the EU is within its rights to be acting unilaterally and added that the inclusion of airlines in the emission scheme is compatible with principles of fair and equal opportunity that were laid down as when the Open Skies Agreement was made.

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