27th Jun 2022

US begins intense lobby against EU emissions scheme

The US has begun lobbying hard in the EU to try and put the bloc's planned aviation emissions scheme off track.

It aims to use the next months, as the scheme travels through the legislative pipeline in Brussels, to persuade the European Parliament and member states to look at an alternative solution to lowering green house gas emissions in the aviation sector.

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Last month Brussels proposed that from 2012 all foreign airlines be included in a emissions trading scheme whereby airlines are given a certain number of pollution allowances each year - if they go over their threshold they are obliged to buy carbon credits from other airlines.

Speaking in Brussels on Tuesday, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Transport John Byerly castigated the scheme as both "illegal" and "unworkable."

"We have some time, my understanding is that it will take at least a year to 18 months to two years for the co-decision process within Europe to reach a result. We will use that time to try and persuade colleagues in Europe that this is not a path to follow," said Mr Byerly.

He said the EU risked a "repeat of the bitter fight several years ago over the unilateral EU Hush Kits proposal."

This anti-noise directive proposed outlawing aircraft fitted with devices designed to reduce engine noise on the grounds that they do not always comply with international noise regulations.

The EU eventually backed down after intense lobbying from Washington and after the US Congress threatened to ban Air France and British Airways' Concorde from landing in New York.

Speaking about the emissions scheme, Mr Byerly said Washington objected to the "mandatory and unilateral" inclusion of all aircraft in the bloc's pollution-reduction plans, which he said Brussels should be applying only within Europe.

He also claimed it was "diverting attention" away from other emission-reducing steps such as harmonised air traffic control in Europe which would cut down on indirect routeings, and "aircraft circulating above airports waiting for clearance to land."

This in turn would reduce fuel consumption and cut down on emissions said Mr Byerly.

The other thorny aviation issue

Although he said the emissions issue was "not specifically linked" to the headline aviation issue for which he is in Brussels – the liberalisation of the transatlantic aviation market, known as 'open skies' – he will go to the negotiation table on Wednesday (10 January) with no American offer to get the stalled talks going again.

Last month the US withdrew a controversial proposal to allow foreign investors more say in its domestic airlines, following fierce opposition at home.

The EU had made it clear that a revision of the investment rules was necessary for its approval of the open skies deal. Under US rules, American citizens must hold 75% of stock options, and make up two thirds of the board of the directors as well as senior management.

However, Mr Byerly said the issue would now not be revisited in the US and that Washington was looking to Europe to get things started again.

"I think we need to hear from Europe ... if Europe wants an agreement it must have ideas," he said.

He said that Washington was still committed to the original November 2005 treaty and would be looking to get an overall open skies agreement under the German EU presidency that runs to the end of June.


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