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Russia criticises aviation’s EU ETS inclusion

21 Feb 2012, 6.03 pm GMT

Russia criticises aviation's EU ETS inclusion

London, 21 February (Argus) — The inclusion of aviation in the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) is “premature” and will lead to an increased cost of air travel and reduced demand for flights, Russian transport minister Igor Levitin said today in his opening speech at a two-day conference in Moscow addressing governments' opposition to their carriers' inclusion in the ETS.

Government representatives convened today to discuss a “basket of countermeasures” to their airlines' inclusion in the EU ETS and adopt a “joint declaration”, according to a draft agenda seen by Argus.

“We believe that market-based measures for the introduction of charges for the release of greenhouse gases… should be taken in agreement by the parties, after reaching the necessary consensus and in the framework of the ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organisation],” Levitin said. Unilateral decision making will lead to an increase in airline costs, which will be distributed among passengers, he added. Because global warming is comprehensive, it must be addressed at the global level of ICAO, he emphasised.

Applying the EU directive to airline carriers contravenes the sovereignty principles of the Chicago Convention governing international civil aviation, because carbon permits need to be purchased for the entire route — not solely for the portion in EU airspace, Levitin said.

Russia, China and the US all share the same position on airlines' inclusion in the ETS, Levitin told the conference. China issued a directive on 6 February banning its airlines from participating in the scheme and the US Congress on 7 February passed legislation opposing that country's inclusion in the scheme.

The EU ETS is not fit for purpose for aviation, according to industry group the Association of European Airlines (AEA) secretary-general Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus. “The EU ETS was designed for stationary emitters, like power stations. Unlike power stations, aircraft cross international boundaries on a daily basis and therefore we need a global market-based approach for this sector,” he said. “AEA is extremely concerned about the risk of retaliatory action and market distortion against European airlines [if other countries forbid their airlines from complying with the scheme]. A level playing field is absolutely essential.” We need a global market-based solution through ICAO, he added.

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