The Court of Justice to the European Union has ruled the inclusion of global airlines in the proposed emissions trading scheme is valid.
The decision follows objections from a number of American and Canadian airlines that they should be exempt from the scheme.
Carriers outside the EU had argued the rules infringed a number of principles of international law and various international agreements.
According to them, the directive infringes the Chicago Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Open Skies Agreement, in particular because it imposes a form of tax on fuel consumption, and
There was also anger the scheme seeks to apply the trading scheme beyond the European Union’s territorial jurisdiction.
However, delivering its judgment today, the Court of Justice confirmed “the validity of the directive that includes aviation activities in the emissions trading scheme”.
The decision means all airlines flying to and from the 27 states of the European Union will face a tax on emissions from next year.
The court argued airlines were free to choose whether to operate commercial air routes from EU airports subject to the emissions trading scheme.
As a result of this choice, the plan “infringes neither the principle of territoriality nor the sovereignty of third states, since the scheme is applicable to the operators only when their aircraft are physically in the territory of one of the member states of the EU”.
The scheme was established in 2003 when the EU decided to set up a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading.
Aviation was included in the proposals in 2008.
The scheme is due to come into effect on January 1st 2012.
From that date all airlines – including those of third party countries outside the European Union – will have to acquire and surrender emission allowances for their flights which depart from and arrive at European airports.
More on the judgement can be seen here.