U.S. Airlines Must Comply With EU Emissions Law | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: December 21, 2011

U.S. Airlines Must Comply With EU Emissions Law

Climate Change: All carriers taking off or landing in European Union have to limit greenhouse gases, court rules
Department: Government & Policy
Keywords: climate change, airlines, greenhouse gas emissions

U.S. and other foreign airlines must comply with a European Union law curbing greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, theEU’s high court ruled today.

The EU Court of Justice determined that the law, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2012, does not violate international aviation treaties. The law requires airlines that take off or land in the EU to have emissions allowances to cover their greenhouse gas releases, primarily the carbon dioxide created when jet fuel is burned (C&EN, Oct. 17, page 48).

Airlines for America, a trade group that recently changed its name from the Air Transport Association of America, along with several U.S. and Canadian airlines, challenged the EU law. The air carriers want a single global system for controlling greenhouse gas emissions from airlines and oppose the EU system.

The association says its members “will comply under protest” with the EU directive.

“Today’s decision does not mark the end of this case,” the industry group says. The EU Court of Justice did not fully address the legal issues raised in the suit, says Airlines for America. Because the association initially filed its case in the U.K., the group is considering an appeal to the High Court of England & Wales.

In contrast, environmental groups from the U.S. and the EU hailed the decision.

“We hope that aviation industry lobbyists will now divert their energies into securing an ambitious global agreement to tackle the sector’s soaring emissions” of greenhouse gases, says Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF-UK, an environmental organization.

Meanwhile, a bill (H.R. 2594) that the U.S. House of Representatives passed in October would outlaw participation of U.S. airlines in the EU emissions scheme. The Senate has not taken up the matter.

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