Europe is making great strides to cut carbon pollution. A very large source of that pollution comes from aviation. This is particularly harmful because it is emitted at high altitude and there is no opportunity for trees to consume any part of the carbon. The EU took measures to reduce it, the U.S blocked them, but a compromise may be in the works.
EU required airlines to buy green credits
The EU passed a law requiring airlines to buy carbon credits on every flight taking off or landing at airports in the EU. These credits would offset the pollution the flight causes. In short, it is a carbon tax. The credits would come from renewable industries like wind or solar energy.
Unlike the United the EU Parliament is not run by Neanderthals who belong to the flat earth society like our Congress. Compared to most of Congress, however, Neanderthals were more highly evolved.
Congress does bidding of airlines to block EU
Airlines in the Unites States went nuts. They asserted that if they had to buy clean energy credits on every flight between the U.S. and Europe it would raise ticket prices so no one could afford to fly to Europe, cost jobs, bankrupt the airlines, take a penny off Exxon’s share price, and end life as we know it.
They lobbied Congress the climate change deniers, was happy to oblige. They passed a law called the “European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act” that blocked the EU from enforcing that tax on American airlines, allowing them to pollute with impunity. Congress called efforts to reduce pollution a “scheme.”
In order to get around the stand off, the EU put the tax on hold for a year to allow negotiations. Now the EU has offered the U.S. a deal. They would only require airlines to buy credits for the distance those flights travelled in EU airspace, rather than the entire flight over the Arctic and the Atlantic. They want the U.S. to help negotiate a bigger deal to cut global emissions in exchange.
Under the compromise, European countries could regulate, for now, “the portion of those flights within the airspace of that state or group of states,” according to a copy of a working paper obtained by the NY Times. But the paper also calls for a global set of regulations by 2016, and for that system to be carried out “from 2020 as part of a basket of measures which also include technologies, operational improvements and sustainable alternative fuels.”
The State Department in the United States said Friday that earlier concerns that the Europeans were overreaching with their environmental regulations had been alleviated.
On Wednesday, the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations group based in Montreal, agreed to forward the European compromise proposal to a meeting of its general assembly that will start this month. The group is examining ways to regulate pollution from aircraft engines, which account for about 3% of greenhouse gas emissions.
European officials said paring back their system in exchange for a global deal would represent a better outcome. Under the new proposal, emissions would be reduced 37% by 2050 from 2005 levels, compared with just 20% under the original plan.
Environmentalists have doubts about the value of the compromise
“Timing is everything when it comes to global warming because of the cumulative effect of CO2 emissions,” said Bill Hemmings, an aviation expert at Transport and Environment, an environmental group based in Brussels. “So why would we give up on a law that is already cutting aviation emissions when it is very uncertain what the climate will get in return?”
One issue not addressed by the EU or this compromise is the fact that airlines are still being allowed to overfly the Arctic. If airlines were forced to avoid the Arctic, the effects of pollution would be significantly decreased. Banning Arctic over flight and the carbon credits together would go a long way to reduce the impact aviation is causing on global warming. It appears no one has the guts to tackle that one.