U.S. Loses Fight To Block Pollution Tax of Airlines in Europe — Promises An “Appropriate Action” In Response

We previously discussed the ignoble effort of the Obama Administration and U.S. airlines to claim an exemption to the European pollution taxes that applies to all other airlines. They have now lost their case before the European Court of Justice — and the Obama Administration is promising to retaliate.

In combination with the U.S. refusal to sign on to cuts in carbon emissions, the move against the pollution tax reaffirms for many environmentalists around the world that the U.S. is now a foe rather than an ally in the fit against global warming and pollution.

This move to force the airlines to pay for their pollution follows an earlier decision by a senior adviser to the court against the U.S. airlines.

The Europeans have always sought to force internalization of pollution costs to encourage companies to reduce emissions or pay for the damage caused by their activities. The idea that the U.S. airlines should get a pass on such emissions has caused condemnations through the continent.

In response, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US “will be compelled to take appropriate action” if the EU goes ahead with the scheme. It appears that “appropriate action” does not involve committing to carbon reductions.

Source: Spiegel

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23 thoughts on “U.S. Loses Fight To Block Pollution Tax of Airlines in Europe — Promises An “Appropriate Action” In Response”

  1. “would increase the total distance to around 6,800 miles from 5,700 miles”

    And the additional cost for 1100 miles worth of fuel, additional wear and tear on the equipment, additional maintenance, more employee hours for crew and ground — they’re all less than the cap-and-trade fee?

  2. HenMan


    Only well-behaved camels- and certainly no bobcats!


    I have it on good authority that bobcats make excellent camel herders.

    We could make a fortune!

  3. DJ
    1, December 26, 2011 at 11:42 am
    There is jet fuel in breast milk. Enough said.

  4. “Of course, we always have the option of flying cargo into our 51st state, Afghanistan, and from there to Europe via pack animals on established opium routes.” (HenMan)

    Would this necessitate the need for camels?

  5. I’m with Berliner and Pietro on this one.

    Of course, we always have the option of flying cargo into our 51st state, Afghanistan, and from there to Europe via pack animals on established opium routes. And may God continue to bless the United States of America (but not the rest of the world unless they do what we tell them).

  6. “The ‘race to the bottom’ can not be the general guideline for politics.” (Berliner)


  7. I have a great idea to get even – we should institute our own emissions tax & make their airlines pay to come to the US – That’d show em 😉

    Its funny how corporations & the GOP loved them some cap-n-trade rules. Boy Blunder even created rules, passed by the GOP ledg for mercury & other heavy metals. Now suddenly, in the last 3 years, cap-n-trade is a commie plot & just the worst thing a government could do. I wonder what changed? hhhmmmmm.

  8. In my state they test your car for excessive emissions once a year.
    There are examptions for the worst vehicles like my diesel van.
    If you fail the test you can not obtain a license plate.
    If you do not have a license plate then the cop gives you a ticket.
    If Europe wants to control the emissions of planes then test them when they land. Give them a clearance for take off if they pass. Ground them if they dont pass.
    Start with Hilary’s plane when it lands the next time.

  9. Rich: Yes, the media over here estimates that the emission trading adds about 12 euro per ticket *on average*.

    Of course for a concrete ticket it depends on the fleet: air lines with modern, emission friendly fleets pay almost nothing or even make money by selling unused certificates, while the polluters pay much more.
    Which is kinda the point.

    And: The “race to the bottom” can not be the general guideline for politics.
    *Somebody* has to start the necessary global regulations (CO2 emissions, banking regulations, ICC, rules of war, and so on), even when they work only limited or flawed without global compliance.

    There is (sadly) simply no way you could get all countries of the world to agree from the start. Waiting for such things to spring fully formed into the world is unrealistic, we’ll have to build these systems “brick by brick.”

  10. Rich,

    UPS Charts Possible EU Flyaround

    Air-Cargo Carrier Might Reroute—and Lengthen—Flights to Blunt European Carbon-Permit Costs

    The U.S. air-cargo giant may reroute flights to cut the cost of the European plan, which will require carriers to buy permits for emissions generated on flights to, from and within the European Union…

    Mitch Nichols, president of UPS Airlines, said in an interview that the company may look at redirecting flights between its hubs in Hong Kong and Cologne, Germany, by going through Mumbai. That will cut the cost of the tax by about a quarter because UPS would only be charged for the distance flown between Cologne and Mumbai.

    But if the intent of the rule is to stop carbon emissions, in this example it is having the opposite effect: adding a Mumbai stop to the Hong Kong-Cologne flight would increase the total distance to around 6,800 miles from 5,700 miles currently, based on the most direct “great circle” route between the cities.

  11. If the previous post is correct, the cost will be $10-20 per ticket which is relatively trivial for all but the very cheapest tickets. Doubtful that this is going to drive UPS, FedEx to fly other routes if your package is, e.g., going to Athens from NYC.

  12. It is actually not a tax, but a cap-and-trade scheme. An application of the general EU-ETS (European Union Emissions Trading Scheme) to be precise.

    That is kind of important, because, according to the European Court of Justice, that’s part of what makes it compliant with the open skies agreement.
    An outright tax probably would’ve been struck down by the court.

  13. Go Jon…. I am stil in your corner… So far… He appears less insane than those presently running… Even some posters….Causing noxious verbal fumes…

  14. Setting aside the US policy point, this pollution tax will have other consequences:

    1. The tax will incentivize shipment carriers like UPS and FedEx to route flights around Europe to avoid taxes, resulting in longer routes and higher total emissions globally

    2. The tax will raise airfares to and within Europe, slowing tourism and other economic activity on the margins

    3. The tax will allow the price of substitute transportation methods to rise within Europe (trains, buses for example), since competing air options will be more expensive

  15. Ah ha…. How about that metric system implementation….we have mostly avoided it…except for imports and exports…

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