Saturday

24th Jul 2021

EU court backs airline emissions cap

  • Airplanes account for 3 percent of the world's carbon emissions (Photo: Dirk-Jan Kraan)

An EU plan to cap airplane emissions from January is legal, the advocate general of the European Court of Justice said on Thursday (6 October) in response to a complaint from US airlines. The industry expressed its 'disappointment' with the legal opinion, which is usually confirmed by the court's verdicts.

Part of the EU's CO2 emission allowance scheme, the cap would require airlines to pay for their pollution, which accounts for some three percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions due to human activities.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"The inclusion in the EU emissions trading scheme of flights of all airlines from and to European airports is compatible with the principle of fair and equal opportunity laid down in the Open Skies Agreement," the advocate general said.

"Indeed, it is precisely that inclusion that establishes equality of opportunity in competition, as airlines holding the nationality of a [country beyond the EU] would otherwise obtain an unjustified competitive advantage over their European competitors if the EU legislature had excluded them from the EU emissions trading scheme," it added.

Under the scheme, airlines would get 85 percent of their permits for free, while the remaining 15 percent has to be auctioned on the market. The measure applies to all airlines flying over or in and out the European airspace, causing outrage amongst non-EU companies.

A group of US and Canadian-based airlines challenged the EU rules in a British court, as each EU government has to implement them by January 2012. The tribunal in the UK turned to the ECJ for advice, with the legal opinion being the first step before a final verdict expected next year.

"I am glad to see that the advocate general's opinion concludes that the EU directive is fully compatible with international law. The EU reaffirms its wish to engage constructively with third countries during the implementation of this legislation," said climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard.

But the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said it was "disappointed" at the court's opinion.

"We support and need positive economic measures as part of our strategy to manage aviation’s emissions. Emissions trading is one possibility. But it must be a global scheme under the leadership of International Civil Aviation Organisation," said Tony Tyler, Iata's director general.

EU and US heading towards trade war over airplane emissions

The US is heading towards a trade war with the EU over greenhouse gas charges for airlines flying into Europe, after the House of Representatives rejected the obligation for American carriers to comply with EU law.

Kerry resets climate relations before Glasgow summit

John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy, was in Brussels to discuss how to tackle climate change with the European Commission. His appearance also marked a major shift in relations after the previous US administration under Donald Trump.

Commission: Pioneering Nordics' energy mix 'example' to EU

The Nordic electricity market is an example of successful market integration plus climate action, as the share of sustainable energy keeps growing, the European Commission said. However, the decarbonisation of the transport sector remains a challenge.

Investigation

How Energy Treaty 'shadow' courts prolong EU's fossil age

The treaty enables companies to claim billions in compensation from states in front of international arbitration tribunals, if they feel unfairly treated by the states' energy or climate policies.

News in Brief

  1. Macron changes phone after Pegasus spyware revelations
  2. Italy to impose 'vaccinated-only' entry on indoor entertainment
  3. EU 'will not renegotiate' Irish protocol
  4. Brussels migrants end hunger strike
  5. Elderly EU nationals in UK-status limbo after missed deadline
  6. WHO: 11bn doses needed to reach global vaccination target
  7. EU to share 200m Covid vaccine doses by end of 2021
  8. Spain ends outdoor mask-wearing despite surge

EU faces long wait for full vaccine supplies

The EU is still several months away from having enough vaccines to inoculate its 450 million people, with Pfizer and BioNTech, its principle suppliers, aiming for September for delivery targets.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Far left and right MEPs less critical of China and Russia
  2. Why is offshore wind the 'Cinderella' of EU climate policy?
  3. Open letter from 30 embassies ahead of Budapest Pride
  4. Orbán counters EU by calling referendum on anti-LGBTI law
  5. Why aren't EU's CSDP missions working?
  6. Romania most keen to join eurozone
  7. Slovenia risks court over EU anti-graft office
  8. Sweden's gang and gun violence sets politicians bickering

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us