BEIJING Oct 18 China and Europe continue to
"agree to disagree" on a controversial scheme to cap greenhouse
gas emissions from the global aviation sector, a senior EU
official said in Beijing on Tuesday.
All airlines landing in Europe will be forced to comply with
the cap from Jan. 1 and cover any surplus emissions with carbon
credits, and China has criticised the policy as illegal and
Jos Delbeke, the director general for climate action at the
European Commission, told a news briefing that he had a "very
useful exchange of views" with his Chinese counterparts on the
issue during his visit to Beijing.
But he added that Europe was entitled to impose the law
after other countries failed to agree to curb aircraft
"Multilateral agreements are preferable but our legislators
got impatient because the multilateral agreements did not get
any results," Delbeke said.
"This is a measure the EU is entitled to take according to
He said the law was an "old story" that was first passed in
2009 and adopted following years of discussions with airlines,
industry associations and other countries, and that opponents in
the United States, China and elsewhere had only started to pay
attention to the issue this year.
"It is only just a couple of months before the starting date
that this law seems to provoke quite a bit of anxiety," he said.
He said the impact of the law was likely to be minimal, with
85 percent of emission permits granted free in the first year of
implementation, giving airlines the opportunity to earn revenues
that would allow them to modernise their fleets.
He said he was confident that a challenge to the law made by
two U.S. airlines would be rejected, particularly after the EU's
advocate general ruled that it did not violate either the
Chicago Convention on Civil Aviation or the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change.
China continues to urge the EU to exempt its airlines from
the scheme, and has threatened to retaliate by reducing its
aircraft orders from Europe's Airbus.
Delbeke said that the law would encourage countries to
implement their own aviation CO2 emission cap.
"It opens up the possibility that if a state takes
equivalent measures we can waive the obligations."
The issue goes to the heart of global climate change
discussions, and to the efforts Europe has been making to
persuade China, the world's biggest source of climate-changing
greenhouse gases, to make stronger commitments to reduce its
But China has sought to retain the Kyoto Protocol principle
of "common but differentiated responsibilities" in which the
bulk of the burden for reducing CO2 lies with industrialised
Delbeke said the principle applies only to nations, and not
to individual industrial sectors.
He added that discussions on the law would continue.
"We are going to continue our negotiations and discussions
and different parties -- that's what we agreed today with
China," he said.
"In case we do not find a solution at the political level,
then airlines may want to go to court and challenge the measure.
We have the rule of law in Europe and anybody who is
dissatisfied can go to court."
(Editing by Robert Birsel)