10 January 2007

EUobserver - US lobby vs. EU emissions law

Dear readers,

I will never stop being amazed, I guess, by the arrogance of some US administrations (and this regardless of who is seating at the White House or having the majority in the Congres). Yesterday again, another example was reported by the EU observer. The US administration is again trying to tweak things its own protectionist way in the field of air transport. Contrarily to what many people might think, the USA are not at all a free trade country (except for others... of course). There are many protectionist tarifs and laws, in many sectors, from steel production to shipping, including infamous regulations on air transport not only in US skies but also to and from them.

These laws are mainly consisting in a scheme to collect all kinds of personal data on passengers (even ones transiting through the US airports but not stopping there), in complete violation of basic civil rights. This was forcedly imposed on European Union companies, under the threat to simply ban them from Transatlantic flights. The EU, under heavy pressure, first balked, before agreeing to the scheme. It is not the decision it should be the proudest of. The Council had to force it upon the European Parliament and, understandably, there was a nasty row in the European Court of Justice. Another set of unfair laws concerning the American airspace is that companies who want to have internal flights in the US must have at least 75% of their shares into US hands, as well as a majority of their board controlled by US citizens. For this reason, the EU has tried for years to negotiate an open skies agreement. This has never worked, simply because the US administrations have blocked all proposals, without ever making any opening.

Now, the EU is willing to reduce gas emissions by airlines and plane traffic. This will concern flights inside the EU but also (logically) flights from and to the EU. The system will be an emission rights stock exchange, just like the one for CO2 already existing under the Kyoto treaty. Nothing extremely constraining, but already a major positive step for the environment and against global warming. Air traffic is indeed (like auto traffic) one of the top three polluters in the world. Well, as was to be expected (the US already blocked a similar noise reduction scheme), the US administration is using all kind of pressure means, including threats, to block such a legislation to be passed in the EU. One of these threats would be to block completely the already failing negotiation on the Open Skies Treaty.

In one word, non content of polluting their own country and gassing the planet, not happy enough in ignoring global warming issues, the USA also want to allow their weakened airline companies to gas our skies, while EU companies would still be fobidden to fly US internal airspace. Speak about fair trade?


Anonymous said...

I must say that i am disappointed in your statement that a stock exchange for the trading of emissions is a positive move in the reduction of green house gases. Especially when the move only deals with aviation.

The fact of the matter is that the major sources of pollution come from automobiles, trucks and indutries.

One can only look to your back door and realize that many European countries have not achieve the standards that have been achived in North America.

Jean-Baptiste Perrin said...

Dear reader,

It seems that we have some misunderstanding here. A stock exchange to trade emissions is already in action in many countries and for many industries, and all EU states are participating. It works pretty well, though its effects are certainly unsufficient. The scheme proposed by the EU consists merely in including aviation companies in it.

You are right though, when you say that (personal) cars are a main emitter. That is the reason why there are also efforts made here to reduce these emissions. Unfortunately, they are over compensated by the increase in the total number of cars. This said, the EU has begun to stabilize its emissions, when the USA are continuing to increase theirs at an accelerated rate, being today the first polluter of all the developped countries.

Casper said...

The subject is more scarry than most people think. The two days after 9/11 where all planes where grounded over the US, the air temperature fell by 2 degrees centigrade.

Now there was a program on BBC sometime last year where they talked about the changes to the climate, and they have found that there is a 'cooling' and 'heating' poolution. The 'cooling' poolutioin is caused by CO2 emissions, and the 'heating' poolution is caused by chemicals in the stratosphere.

It is quite "easy" to get ridge of the CO2 emmisions (Europe is actually getting there), which means that the 'heating' poolution is still up there, and they (the people who research in this) think that the problem with the rise in the temperature is caused by this.

I think it's time that everyone should work together to do something about it....

Fortunatly Europeans are starting to get the same stupid ideas about cars, as the Americans - the bigger the better (not).