Saturday, October 1, 2011

Exclusive! EU-ETS- Is the fire missing in the world’s belly?

Neelam Mathews
Oct 1, 2011

Last week, a senior official associated with the EU Climate Action office, when asked about the EU-Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) meet organized by India for non-EU ICAO Council members for a joint action-plan on the levy to be imposed from Jan 1, 2012, said dismissingly: “If they don’t  want to pay, they should keep off European airspace. What is the need for the Joint Declaration?”

That, to most of us on the fringes reporting on this subject, sums it all. The arrogant, narcissistic and high-handed unflinching attitude of EU towards the rest of the world, cannot be overlooked.

With Jan 2012 around the corner, the economically frail EU that took on obligations by signing the Kyoto Protocol, is starting to get the bubbly out as it celebrates its victory in anticipation of collecting a levy that nobody knows where the money will be directed to.Today, every carrier has filed its emission report to the EU, though many under protest. This brings one to the inference - has the world lost the fire in its belly?

Given that India stands to lose much less than other giants, it goes to its credit  that it took the lead by hosting a two-day meet of  non-EU ICAO council members. The U.S delegation was led by the political appointee of President Obama. Of the 25 countries that attended, the credit for which goes to Secretary Ministry of Civil Aviation, Nasim Zaidi, Chile, Thailand and Turkey came as observers and Canada did not sign the Joint Declaration. Australia and New Zealand- that have a guidance program with the EU- did not attend.

Aerospace Diary learns the loudest protests against the EU ETS came from Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Russia and Malaysia. Saudi Arabia was vehement in that it wanted a voluntary stop to flying over EU airspace.

“All ICAO non EU members of the council were unanimous in opposing EU ETS with one voice to bring diplomatic pressure on EU. The Joint Declaration will be sent to EU on behalf of the group by India, to ICAO Council and individually by each state,” Zaidi tells Aerospace Diary.

For Zaidi, who spent time with individual states in an attempt to reach this end, it was truly a great effort and triumph. India took the lead and for that, it deserves kudos.
Meanwhile, one wonders in a world where geo-politics remains supreme, how a politically-active country like the U.S has allowed itself to be side-stepped  given that its Dept of Transportation has the power to take retaliatory steps and a Congress Bill that prohibits US carriers to pay taxes by another government still needs to be passed. One specualtes, is that the U.S (last minute) trump card? Which still however, unfortunately, leaves the developing nations in the same pothole they are in presently.

A major issue remains and that is the lack of understanding by nations over legalities, a lawyer tells Aerospace Diary. “In the EU Court of Law, it cannot challenge ETS on grounds of the Chicago Convention, as EU is not a signatory but individual states are…..Therefore in effect, talks should be held with each country as unlike the U.S, India has not as yet ratified the EU- Horizontal Agreement…….The world needs to challenge the legality of this issue.”

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