China urges EU to drop aviation emission scheme, lawsuit looms   2011-11-08 16:14:36 FeedbackPrintRSS

BEIJING, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- China's aviation watchdog on Tuesday urged the European Union to drop a plan that would require global airlines to buy carbon emission permits, while Chinese aviation industry reportedly plan to sue the EU over the unpopular scheme.

"We hope the EU will avoid this unilateral move, solve international aviation emissions issues on the basis of mutual respect and consensus, and promote the sustainable development of the industry," an official with China's Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) said on condition of anonymity.

The CAAC welcomes and supports a resolution adopted by the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regarding the issue, the official said.

The ICAO resolution, adopted at a meeting in Montreal last week, opposes the EU plan to force non-EU airlines to take part in the bloc's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

According to the EU plan, as of January 2012, airlines flying to or from the bloc will have to buy permits from the ETS for 15 percent of the carbon emissions they generate during the entire flight, with large fines for noncompliance.

The EU's move is unilateral in nature and violates a cardinal principle of state sovereignty, the resolution said. China firmly opposed the EU plan at the meeting, saying the action contravenes international laws and ignores efforts made to tackle aviation emissions by other countries, especially developing countries.

The CAAC will participate in international negotiations to deal with climate change in an active and constructive way, the official said.

China has held many rounds of talks with the EU side but could not reach an agreement, a Chinese industry group told local media.

China Air Transport Association (CATA) will join several major Chinese airlines to file a lawsuit against the EU over the issue, CATA Deputy Secretary General Chai Haibo was quoted by the China Economic Weekly in a story published Monday.

The EU plan was already challenged by U.S. airlines in the European Court of Justice in July for breaching international law.

Russia also railed against the EU scheme and issued a joint statement with China in September, saying the move infringes upon other countries' sovereignty and burdens global air carriers.

The EU put the ETS into operation in January 2005 and views it a corner stone of its fight against climate change. The bloc aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent from the 1990 level.

Chinese analysts said the EU move is not fair, especially for the aviation industry of developing countries.

The emission charges should not be imposed on airlines but on European and U.S. companies which supply most of the engines used on major airlines' planes, as engines are the real culprits for carbon emissions, Zhang Hongbiao, an official in charge of technologies with Aviation Industry Corporation of China, told the China Economic Weekly.

Xie Xingquan, chief legal adviser to CATA, said the ETS arranging 2012-2020 emission quotas based on the annual average emissions in the 2004-2006 period was "unreasonable," according to the magazine.

That arrangement would unfairly restrain the growth of developing countries' aviation industries, which are expanding rapidly compared with the almost fully tapped markets of developed countries, he said.

The scheme will increase costs for the global aviation industry, which is already facing a paltry profit margin of 1.2 percent this year and a projected 0.8 percent profit margin for next year, said Director General and Chief Executive Officer Tony Tyler of the International Air Transport Association in Hong Kong in September.

It is estimated that the ETS will cost Chinese airlines an additional 800 million yuan (123 million U.S. dollars) in the first year it goes into effect, and a total of 17.6 billion yuan by 2020, an official with the CAAC said last year.

Editor: Zhang Xiang
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