US airlines brace to lobby new president on EU row


Published — Monday 5 November 2012

Last update 5 November 2012 12:14 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON: US airlines, through industry group A4A, will lobby the United States’ newly-elected president as soon as he takes office on an issue that has triggered threats of a trade war.
All year, an international row has raged over the European Union’s decision to include all airlines using its airports in its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), designed to curb planet-warming pollution.
The European Union says it is protecting the environment. US opponents say it has breached sovereignty to try to fill its empty coffers. Both houses of the US Congress have passed rare blocking legislation — yet to be signed by a president — to counter the EU law.
This week, the UN’s International Civil Aviation organization (ICAO), based in Montreal, is expected to take another stab at moving toward a negotiated solution.
The European Commission, the EU executive, has said it can change its law if the ICAO comes up with a robust global framework to limit airline emissions.
The problem is almost no-one thinks the ICAO can deliver in time, if at all, prompting warnings of rounds of retaliation.
Meanwhile, the airlines are campaigning for a dispute procedure, referred to as Article 84, which would stall the ICAO process, perhaps for years.
“We are spending our time pushing Congress to pass legislation that addresses this issue and urging the White House to move past diplomacy and toward legal action with an Article 84,” Sean Kennedy, top lobbyist at A4A, told Reuters.
“There’s no brinkmanship here. It’s not a question of if an Article 84 is filed, it’s just a question of when,” he said.
ICAO dispute procedures, used on rare occasions when nations disagree over the body’s practices, are extremely lengthy, in an organization generally renowned for its slowness.
They have to be brought by member states, meaning A4A has to pressure the US Administration, following this week’s presidential election. Whether Democrat or Republican it could be receptive on an issue that has won unusual bipartisan support in Washington.
The European Commission, the EU executive, said it only agreed its law after more than a decade of inaction at the ICAO.
Last year, the European Union’s highest court, the European Court of Justice, found the law to be valid, rejecting a case brought by US airlines.
To hasten the quest for a global alternative, officials from the European Union — which as a bloc is only an observer at the ICAO — are working with the UN body.
The aim is to get enough positive signals to avert a crisis when airlines receive their first emissions bills in April after a slow phase-in of the EU law finalized in 2009.
“The question is how to get past April,” one diplomat said. “If we get into rounds of retaliation, it will be much harder to find a solution.”
The EU law applied to all airlines using EU airports — not just EU carriers — from Jan. 1 this year.
From April, airlines will have to turn in allowances bought on the EU ETS, after emissions for 2012 have been calculated.
Those that do not comply face fines. Repeat offenders could find their aircraft impounded.
Although the US is the biggest opponent, China and India also missed an interim deadline for submitting data. India has threatened that the issue could derail international climate talks in Doha later this month.
European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard at the end of October reiterated her hopes the ICAO will do enough.
“We think that there is a will on the part of the leadership of ICAO and we have people up there now seeing how much progress can be achieved this November, paving the way for substantial decisions to be taken at next year’s ICAO general assembly,” Hedegaard told Reuters.
The general assembly takes place once every three years, with the next scheduled for November 2013 — the earliest date for a solution to be finalized under ICAO procedure.
Between the April deadline and next November, lawyers say EU flexibility could cool tempers even if rhetoric still flies.
“I think the EU will not execute (the fee collection) right away, nor will they impound aircraft. However, they could allow the fines to keep accruing, and then, if there is a solution in November 2013, the fines could be waived as part of the settlement,” Renee Martin-Nagle, visiting scholar at the Environmental Law Institute, who also served as general counsel to Airbus America, said.
“This would be a graceful, face-saving way out of the impasse.”

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Saudi forces on Tuesday morning killed 30 Houthis trying to cross the border in the Rabuah region, and destroyed four vehicles used to transport them. There were no Saudi casualties. “There was an attempt, as usual, to breach the border and s...
JEDDAH: Foreign workers in the Kingdom transferred SR130.74 billion in remittances abroad during the 10-month period from January 2015 to October 2015, as compared to SR126.47 billion transferred abroad during the same period last year.During October...
JEDDAH: It is important to create an appropriate work environment for businessmen and workers through cooperation and information exchange to support inspection campaigns, Labor Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani said in Riyadh on Tuesday. He also stressed...
DAMMAM: The Eastern Province (EP) topped in the number of females enrolled in the Dec. 12 municipal elections with 20.1 percent, followed by Riyadh (14.8 percent) and Northern Region (9.1 percent).An official report titled “The municipal elections s...
RIYADH: A total of 1,171 illegal workers were arrested in Madinah region last week, bringing the total number of such arrests to 99,775 since the launch of a campaign. Maj. Gen. Abdul Hadi Al-Shahrani, Madinah district police chief, said 5,684 expatr...
JUBAIL: Several residents and visitors to Jubail have urged the authorities and companies to help maintain and clean certain mosques in the city, which they say are unsuitable for prayers.Ahmed Al-Qahtani, a citizen living in Jubail, said there shoul...
JEDDAH: Renowned journalist Jameel Al-Thiyabi has been named editor in chief of Okaz newspaper.Al-Thiyabi took charge on Monday. His appointment was announced by Waleed J. Kattan, director-general of Okaz Organization for Press and Publication, on Tw...
JEDDAH: The Kingdom is launching new investments for the development, innovation and implementation of new energy-efficient technologies, particularly in the clear energy sector, to overcome challenges associated with environmental changes.Minister o...
RIYADH: The Shoura Council has backed a proposal to amend current health care legislation to ensure more comprehensive care for women and children.The proposal filed by Shoura member Mona Al-Masheit was supported by fellow members at the consultative...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Health has referred 4,974 patients through the referral program (Ehalati), including 115 life-saving cases last week.Suleiman bin Ahmad Al-Sharie, supervisor of the Ehalati program of the Ministry of Health, said the ministry...
JEDDAH: Indian Consul General B.S. Mubarak has called for development of talent, skills and volunteerism among students, in addition to education.“No doubt, education remains key for turning things around, but there is need to focus on talent develop...
DAMMAM: Eastern Province Gov. Prince Saud bin Naif honored Al-Jazirah Editor in Chief Khaled Al-Malik for winning the 2015 Mediterranean Award for Journalism and Creativity.The award was presented by the Global Mediterranean Foundation whose jury mem...
RIYADH: The opening of the Saudi Embassy in Bucharest in September 2002 was a milestone in the relations between Romania and Saudi Arabia with the exchange of high profile visits from both sides, said a source from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affai...
JEDDAH: Leading members of the Indian expatriate community celebrated their country’s Constitution Day with a special function held at the consulate, with several speakers highlighting the document’s role in uniting the country.Constitution Day, whic...
RIYADH: The Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) has forecast thunderstorms, dust and rain in some parts of the Kingdom, including the Two Holy Cities, till Friday, even as the Civil Defense appealed to the people to exercise caution.The a...

Events & Exhibitions

Stay Connected