On Wednesday, the European Union’s highest court fended off a challenge from the U.S. and established greenhouse gas emissions controls for all airlines flying anywhere in Europe. Airlines now will be required to pay or trade for gas emission allowances, beginning Jan. 1, although the first year is largely free of charge.
Could the U.S. be far behind in creating a similar cap-and-trade system? The EU fight doesn’t make it look good.
“A number of U.S. airlines and then the U.S. airline industry association [now known as Airlines for America] fought it in the European courts, which is why we had this decision [Wednesday],” said Martin Wagner, managing attorney for the International Program at Earthjustice. The group joined a coalition of environmental groups in support of the EU position at the high court in Luxembourg. India and China registered objections to the EU regs.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood went so far as to issue a letter to the EU on the day before the ruling, threatening “appropriate action.” She did not mean compliance.
“Her letter was of somewhat suspicious timing, in that it came just before the European court was scheduled to issue its decision, and called on Europe not to issue these regulations, and essentially issued a threat of some kind of retaliatory action from the United States,” Wagner said. “Which is at least a suggestion of a lack of respect for Europe’s laws and for its court.”