European Commission planning to charge foreign airlines for CO2 emissions

The European Commission has announced a proposition to bring foreign airlines under the scope of its scheme to reduce carbon pollution, a contentious scheme which could reignite tensions with some developing countries.

Connie Hedegard is the European Commissioner responsible for action on climate control and she has outlined plans in regard to foreign planes landing within the EU as of January 2014. She stated that the scheme would only apply to the section of flights which are within EU airspace, but still this could be problematic to some of the larger developing countries such as India, Russia Brazil and China.

The International Civil Aviation organisation (ICAO) is the United Nations agency responsible for global standards in aviation and the countries which are having difficulties with the scheme have ensured that it is not endorsed by the ICAO this month. The scheme intends to bring charges for global flights in line with European flights for carbon pollution. The assembly of the ICAO met in Montreal and backed a global scheme for tackling carbon emissions by airlines, with the details finalised by 2016 and implementation by 2020.

Some of the developing countries are regarding the decision by the EU to include foreign airlines in the scheme as unacceptable due to a state sovereignty breach, this is because of flight originating from outside of European airspace being affected. It is feared that this dispute could result in a trade war.

The original plans by the EU were brought in to effect last January meant that carbon emissions had to be accounted for from take-off to landing which could mean the need to buy permits for their emissions. This plan was suspended for a year following objections from developing countries as well as the US, to allow time for an agreement to be reached on global airline emissions.