All airlines arriving into and departing from EU airports from January 1, 2012, will be subject to the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme, following a ruling by the European Court of Justice.
The judgement by Europe’s highest court follows a case brought by US carriers United and American Airlines in 2009, which opposed the inclusion of foreign carriers within the ETS scheme.
The ruling means that from the start of next year all carriers operating into and out of EU airports will have to purchase allowances to cover their carbon emissions.
Foreign airlines in countries including the US and China have questioned the legality of the scheme, but the European Court of Justice has now ruled that “Application of the emissions trading scheme to aviation infringes neither the principles of customary international law at issue nor the Open Skies Agreement”.
The ruling opens the possibility of tit-for-tat charges for EU carriers using foreign airports, with the US Secretary for State Hillary Clinton last week stating that Washington would be “compelled to take appropriate action” if the plans were not re-considered.
In the One Destination section of British Airways' website (covering corporate responsibility issues) the carrier says that it has “provided long-standing support for the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme”, but added that it has “concerns about the imposition of this scheme on foreign airlines flying into the EU”. The carrier continues:
“We believe it will lead to a negative legal battle at a time when we need a constructive debate on a global solution.
“If implemented as it now stands, without a global solution for aviation in place, the scheme will lead to a significant competitive disadvantage for EU airlines, resulting in job losses and a reduction in services as international passengers by-pass European hubs.
"It would be far better to implement this scheme initially for intra-EU flights only, and to widen it to intercontinental flights when a global scheme that includes aviation is in place.”
The carrier added that it believes the ETS should “replace existing so-called green taxes, such as Air Passenger Duty and its proposed Aviation Duty successor”.
Report by Mark Caswell