Opposition to the European Union's Emissions Trading System
(ETS) stepped up recently as the Chinese government officially
forbade its airlines from paying into the cap-and-trade system
when the rules go into effect in 2013.
The Wall Street Journal reports
that China's move is the latest among the more than two dozen
countries, as well as aviation trade groups, that are opposed
to the ETS, which will require airlines to pay for the greenhouse
gas emissions from flights entering and leaving European airspace.
There is significant opposition to the plan, which by some
estimates could cost the global aviation industry $26 billion
by 2020. An analysis from the Environmental Defense Fund published
last year suggested that the cost of the surcharges could
be $3-$6 per ticket, although an EU estimate suggests the
costs could go as high as $16 per ticket for longer flights.
Earlier this year, two airlines, Delta and Lufthansa, began
adding fees to tickets for flights to Europe to cover
the ETS costs.
Airlines are a flashpoint in the ETS controversy, in part
because the European Union's rule affects businesses based
outside of the region, sparking concerns about trade rules
and agreements. However, aviation currently represents about
3 percent of the world's total emissions and is expected to
Although aviation as an industry has made some steps to reduce
its emissions and has set a goal to cut its emissions by 50
percent by 2050, progress is happening slowly. The EU's rule
could help spur more rapid improvements, since airlines and
airplane manufacturers will have another financial incentive
to cut costs by reducing emissions.