The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has expressed disappointment at the decision by the European Court of Justice to include aviation in the EU emissions trading scheme from 2012.
Announcing its decision yesterday, the court dismissed claims from North American carriers that the scheme was illegal under international law.
IATA disagrees, arguing the decision represents a European legal interpretation of European Union emissions trading scheme.
The success of Europe’s plans will, however, depend on how non-European states view its legal and political acceptability.
In this respect, there is growing global opposition.
“Today’s decision is a disappointment but not a surprise,” said IATA secretary general Tony Tyler.
“It does not bring us any closer to a much-needed global approach to economic measures to account for aviation’s international emissions.
“Unilateral, extra-territorial and market distorting initiatives such as the EU ETS are not the way forward.”
Tyler called for a global approach to the problem, agreed through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The CJEU decision was in response to a legal challenge presented by the Air Transport Association of America (now Airlines for America), a number of US airlines, IATA and the National Airlines Council for Canada.
Together the bodies argued the EU ETS contravened the Chicago Convention which prohibits such taxation of international aviation.
The CJEU ruled that the Chicago Convention does not bind the EU which is not a signatory and that the ETS does not violate any other aspect of international law.
“The CJEU decision may reflect European confidence in European plans,” continued Tyler.
“But that confidence is by no means shared by the outside world where opposition is growing.
“A formal resolution of the ICAO Council supported by 26 countries urged Europe to take a different approach.”
India is reported to have instructed its airlines not to comply.
Similar legislation is moving through the United States Congress, while other legal challenges are expected.
The air transport industry has made global commitments to improve fuel efficiency by 1.5% annually to 2020, to cap net emissions from 2020 and to cut net emissions in half by 2050 (compared to 2005 levels).
“A global framework for economic measures is a critical component of our strategy to achieve these challenging targets,” continued Tyler.
“But we won’t get agreement on a global approach if states are throwing rocks at each other because Europe wants to act extra-territorially.
“Europe should take credit for raising the issue of aviation and climate change on the global agenda.
“But what is needed now is for Europe to work with the rest of the world through ICAO to achieve a global solution.”