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In an attempt to encourage airlines to reduce their emissions the EU released regulations that would charge all planes flying into or out of Europe for the emissions that they released during the flight. This created an uproar in China, India, and the US, who claimed that such regulations contravened international aviation treaties.
Congress and the Senate passed bills that would allow US airlines to ignore the EU law, India refused to share its emissions data, and China postponed a multi-billion dollar order with Airbus (the European airspace company), in what appeared to be the first signs of a trade war.
In response, the EU has recently reduced the severity of its aviation emission regulations to only charge for carbon emissions whilst the planes are in European airspace, not for the entire flight. They hope that such a concession will help relieve pressure from the US, India, and China, and ultimately garner more favour at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which discussed market-based measures to reduce aviation emissions at a meeting in Montreal on Wednesday.
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In over 15 years the ICAO has been unable to make any progress to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint, managing only to agree non-binding fuel efficiency targets. Environmentalists claim that aviation emissions already contribute two or three percent of total global emissions, and that the share is likely to grow by 400% by 2050 if no action is taken soon.
The EU hopes that by downsizing its regulations it is making a gesture of goodwill that would then encourage further talks, and eventually lead to a global, binding agreement to reduce emissions within the sector. They are basically hoping that taking one step back will allow them to take two steps forward.
The EU plan will likely be confirmed by the European Parliament on Thursday, and hopes that the ICAO will agree to some form of commitment to implement a strategy by 2016.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com