Sun, Dec 25, 2011 - Page 11 News List

CATA to sue EU for plane carbon rule, media say


A Boeing 737 prepares to land at Arlanda Airport, north of Stockholm, Sweden, on May 24.

Photo: AFP

China’s transport association will file a lawsuit against the EU over a law to charge airlines for carbon emissions on flights to and from Europe, despite dim prospects of winning the legal action, Chinese media reported.

The European Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday against a group of US airlines that challenged a European law requiring that all airlines flying to and from EU airports buy permits under its emission trading scheme from Jan. 1.

The scheme is aimed at helping offset the carbon emissions of European flights.

“We deeply regretted that the United States lost the lawsuit. China will continue to steadfastly pursue a lawsuit,” Chai Haibo (柴海波), deputy secretary of China Air Transport Association (CATA), was quoted by the Economic Observer as saying for its edition tomorrow.

China Daily on Friday also quoted Chai as saying that China’s four major state-run airlines have reached an agreement with CATA to jointly sue the EU in Germany at the end of this month.

“We know that the prospect of victory is dim, but we want to show our firm opposition by launching a lawsuit,” Chai was quoted by China Daily as saying.

CATA was told by the industry watchdog, the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC), to act with a unified voice on behalf of the main airlines, the Economic Observer said, citing an industry executive.

CATA says the scheme will cost Chinese airlines 800 million yuan (US$126 million) next year and more than triple that by 2020.

On Friday, Xinhua news agency warned of a trade war over the inclusion of airlines in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), although the foreign ministry stated its opposition less stridently and called on the EU to talk to other governments.

However, the case before the Wednesday ruling by the EU’s highest court has triggered hostile reactions from airlines around the world, as well as blocking legislation in the US Congress and a threat from US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The US government said it was dismayed by the ruling and wanted the issue to be addressed by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization.

“We continue to have strong legal and policy objections to the inclusion of flights by non-EU air carriers in the EU ETS,” said Krishna Urs, deputy assistant secretary for transportation affairs at the US Department of State.

In the latest of a flurry of statements from airlines and their associations, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) called on the EU to abandon its plans.

“This dispute needs to be resolved through constructive political dialogue, rather than embarking on a bruising trade war,” the AAPA said on Friday. “We urge the EU to scrap plans to include foreign airlines within the EU ETS.”

EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard welcomed the court decision, while adding she wanted to engage with partners.

“We reaffirm our wish to engage constructively with everyone during the implementation of our legislation,” she said.

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