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Thursday, January 17, 2008

US states eye EU-style measures for curbing plane emissions

US states eye EU-style measures for curbing plane emissions

The Bush administration's staunch opposition to an EU plan to cap emissions from planes flying to and from Europe has come under attack as a number of American states called for US airlines to be included in a similar scheme.

In a petition released on 5 December, the States of California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico and Pennsylvania as well as the District of Columbia and the City of New York joined environmental groups in calling on the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from domestic and foreign aircraft departing or landing at American airports.
The paper highlights airlines' "disproportionate impact on global warming" and suggests implementing a cap-and-trade system, similar to the one that the EU wants to introduce as of 2011, which would force all airlines flying over US territory to buy carbon credits for emissions exceeding the legal limit.

The EU plans have come under sharp criticism from US officials, who insist that the EU has no right to unilaterally force US airlines to comply with its scheme and have threatened legal action.

However, the petition defends the right of countries to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from foreign aircraft operating within their airspace, saying it is consistent both with general principles of international law and obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
"International law requires nations to ensure that activities within their territory do not cause transboundary environmental harm […] International law also recognises the sovereign right of nations to regulate activities within their jurisdiction or control, especially where those activities adversely affect the health and welfare of their own citizens," it states.
The EPA said it would review the petition, which was timed to coincide with a major UN climate conference taking place from 3-14 December in Bali, where representatives from 187 countries are discussing a global warming treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

However, the agency noted that the US has already invested more than $37 billion on science, technology and tax incentive programmes relating to climate change and that the airline industry has already made significant progress in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
The US Air Transport Association also reacted negatively to the proposals, saying: "We also do not believe that it is necessary to establish a greenhouse gas emissions standard for aircraft engines when the commercial airlines already are driven to be as fuel efficient and environmentally conscious as possible," said spokesman David Castelveter.

My comment: I'm firmly after EU position-every country has a right to require from companies using its sources (such as air) to obey certain rules. It's just natural. You can't come in my home and throw your garbage, because you do it home. However, I would like to see more compliency from European companies first. As much as I worship EU, I still don't see enough physical action. And words are just words, they don't change anything. Only actions do.

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