MEP slams U.S. Congress on ETS: ‘Arrogant and ignorant’


A leading MEP strongly reacted after the US Senate transport committee cleared a key vote on a measure that would ban American airlines from paying for their carbon emissions and participating in the EU’s controversial cap-and-trade scheme.

"The United States spurn international efforts to mitigate climate change," said German Socialist democratic MEP, Jo LEINEN, slamming a US bill under which American airlines would not pay into the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS).

Leinen called the upcoming decision by the U.S. Congress ‘arrogant’ and ‘ignorant’.

“It would be absolutely arrogant to prohibit American companies to comply with EU legislation. This would be an unprecedented step to thwart the legal standards in Europe. The decision would be ignorant as well because it neglects the increase in greenhouse gas emission caused by aviation. There shall be no special treatment for American Airlines," said Leinen.

The MEP argued that it would be surprising for the US to accept air passenger duties and taxes in Europe, but not the costs from the ETS.

“The air passenger duty at London Heathrow alone is worth about £160, ten times higher than the charges resulting from the Emission Trading Scheme,” he added.

The Senate’s clearing comes after the bill has already been approved by the full House and as the United States hosts two days of talk with 16 other non-European countries opposed to the EU law, aiming to draw up an alternative global plan.

More than two dozen countries including China, India, Russia, and the US have opposed the EU move, saying it violates international law.

But the EU has said it will not back down on the plan as the tax will help cut carbon emissions by 20% by 2020.

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood earlier this month denounced the tax as ''a lousy policy, a lousy law',' saying that, instead of taking unilateral action, the EU ''should have done it in a more collaborative way”.  The US and those opposing the EU move say any overall solution must involve renouncing the EU scheme.

US Senator John Kerry, who opposed the bill measure on Tuesday, warned that the US was risking a trade war unless American carriers take steps to reduce emissions.

"We're saying no to unilateral moves by Europe, but yes to taking a lead role in doing something collaboratively."

"Other places are going to say we don't want your planes to land here if you are not doing anything," he reportedly told in a hearing.

Both parties supported the moves in Congress, and the Obama administration has also been putting pressure on Brussels to leave it to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to come up with measures to cut carbon emissions.

The ICAO has until next April to come up with an alternative before the EU begins enforcing payment on emissions.

Since 2005, some 10,000 large industrial plants in the EU have been required to buy and sell permits to release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

A so-called 'emissions trading scheme' enables companies that exceed individual CO2 emissions targets to buy allowances from 'greener' ones to help reach the EU's targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

However, pollution credits were grossly overallocated by several countries during the initial implementation phase, forcing down carbon prices and undermining the scheme's credibility, which has prompted the EU to consider toughening up the system.

Airlines were added to the ETS on 1 January 2012.

Subscribe to our newsletters


Want to know what's going on in the EU Capitals daily? Subscribe now to our new 9am newsletter.