Coalition of the unwilling?

May 24 2012
VERTIC Blog >> Environment
Grete Luxbacher, London
As previously highlighted on the VERTIC blog, there has been a storm of controversy surrounding the inclusion of aviation greenhouse gas emissions from flights into and out of the EU in the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS)—the EU-wide carbon market. A so-called ‘Coalition of the Unwilling’ was formed by 23 non-EU countries including the US, Russia, India and China. The coalition first met in February in Moscow and plans to meet this summer in Saudi Arabia. They released a declaration outlining possible courses of action including banning airlines from participating in the scheme. Currently, only India and China have followed through and prohibited their airlines from participating in the scheme.
Missed Deadline
Both EU and non-EU aircraft operators had until 31 March to submit their verified emissions reports to the EU ETS. With the deadline having past, the EU is reporting that over 1,200 airlines complied, but 10 airlines—two from India and eight from China—did not comply. Despite this non-compliance, the EU is touting the inclusion of aviation into the EU ETS as a success as the Chinese and Indian airlines account for only 3 per cent of overall aviation emissions.
Failure to comply can result in fines and the possibility of an EU-wide ban for the aircraft carrier. The Chinese and Indian airlines have been contacted and granted an extension until mid-June to submit the required reports.
At the 2012 China Civil Aviation Development Forum held this week, the head of China’s Civil Aviation Administration, Li Jiaxiang, reiterated that Chinese airlines would not be participating in the EU ETS. Instead China will be focusing on other measures to reduce aviation emissions. Other non-EU countries are also still speaking out against the inclusion of non-EU based aircraft operators in the EU ETS. At the same conference, the assistant secretary of the US Department of Transportation, Susan Kurland, called on the EU to not apply the ETS to non-EU airlines and spoke out in favour of a global solution through the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Global Solution
ICAO is made up of 191 member countries and sets international aviation standards and regulations including those covering environmental protection. For the past decade, ICAO has been attempting to design a global framework for aviation emissions. While ICAO has endorsed a goal to limit or reduce the impact of the aviation industry on the climate, it failed to create a global legal framework. This failure, led to the EU including aviation emissions in the ETS. However, after the controversy surrounding the EU ETS there has been a renewed focus on finding a global solution through ICAO. At the recent China conference the EU has asserted that if a global solution were reached it would be open to reviewing and amending the ETS.
EU ETS Success?
The EU is currently on track to meet its goal of reducing domestic emissions by 20 percent below 1990s levels by 2020 with recently released data showing that 2011 carbon emissions fell 2.4 percent. And while the inclusion of aviation emissions has been hailed a success, there are still many countries that are unsatisfied. Therefore, only time will tell if a global solution can be reached via ICAO because as it stands now, both the EU and China are not backing down.

Last changed: May 25 2012 at 3:50 PM