UN Struggling To Avert Carbon Trade War
Talks at the U.N.’s aviation body must bridge a deep divide between developed and emerging nations over airline emissions to avert the threat of a carbon trade war with the European Union.
After more than a decade of debate at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), there is little sign emerging powers China and India are ready to pay to pollute.
Failure to get a deal would open the way for the European Union to resume international implementation of its own law that makes all aviation using EU airports buy carbon allowances.
The last time it tried to enforce the law over frustration at a lack of ICAO progress, the EU faced counter-measures and the suspension of Chinese orders for Airbus jets. Some orders are still frozen.
In response to claims it was breaching sovereignty, the EU suspended the law, but said it would re-impose it unless the ICAO found an alternative.
With time running short before the EU has to decide what to do, the ICAO will hold a preliminary meeting on September 4.
That in theory will finalize the ground work for an outline global deal at the triennial general assembly beginning on September 24 at the ICAO headquarters in Montreal. But still it would require further talks and only take effect in 2020.
Some EU officials say they are hopeful there will be convincing progress towards a global market-based mechanism.
“I’m optimistic, but it’s difficult and we need political will from the United States, China and India,” one EU official said on condition of anonymity.
Sources close to the talks said a compromise option was to limit carbon charges to national airspace, rather than the entire flight, a U.S. position that Europe initially opposed.