Next week, the European Commission president leads a delegation to Beijing for an EU-China summit, seeking Chinese help to ease the European debt crisis. So it’s likely no accident that China chose this week to announce a ban against its airlines participating in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, which now covers all air travel at airports within the union and allocates all airlines permits based on historical emissions, which they can then trade as per actual emissions. At a Moscow summit in two weeks, this scheme will be opposed by a group of 26 countries—including China, India (which has told its airlines not to submit emissions data to the EU), and the US (where the House of Representatives has passed a Bill prohibiting American airlines from participating in the EU scheme). Yet, as the EU climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard has been arguing, all these protests may end up being nothing more than negotiating tactics. They are very much being made with the knowledge that payments for the airlines emissions trade don’t kick in until 2013.
The China directive even has the caveat that its airlines can’t participate in the EU scheme unless they receive government approval. India has been highlighting “equivalent measures” to encourage energy efficiency and green power to gain exemption from the EU law. Hedegaard has said that there is a provision for such waivers in the EU legislation, even if details have to be negotiated. As for those analysts who are warning of aviation trade wars, they are being Y2Kish.