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EU halts airline pollution fines for one year

The EU announced Monday that it would halt for one year [press release] its policy of charging airlines for greenhouse gas emissions (CO2) [JURIST news archive] for flights into and out of EU member state airports. As a result of this delay, the EU will not require airlines to pay for CO2 emissions for the entirety of 2012 and will delay reporting obligations for these flights. The announcement came after the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Council met on Friday to discuss regulatory measures for curbing CO2 emissions from aviation. Following the meeting, EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard announced that a policy group would be set up shortly and that there is reference to a regulatory Market Based Mechanism (MBM) that parties must agree to on a global level. The EU stated:

Based on the encouraging results of the ICAO Council meeting 9 November—and the constructive engagement of our international partners in the relevant discussions—the EU is convinced that a global solution for addressing the fast growing aviation emissions from international aviation is within reach at the upcoming ICAO Assembly in 2013. As a gesture of good faith the EU will "stop the clock" on the implementation of the international aspects of its ETS aviation by deferring the obligation to surrender emissions allowances from air traffic to and from the EU by one year.
The process of tracking and charging airlines for CO2 emissions will not begin until the 2013 Assembly in September or October of next year.

Last December, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) [official website] upheld [JURIST report] the EU law forcing foreign airlines using EU airports to pay fees for greenhouse gas emissions. The finding that the carbon emission fees do not violate international law, as several US and Canadian airlines had argued, was expected after ECJ Advocate General Juliane Kokott issued an opinion to that effect [JURIST report] in October 2011. The foreign airlines had filed for judicial review of EU Directive 2008/101/EC [text, PDF], which announced that airlines would have to comply with heightened emissions regulations while using EU airports beginning on January 1, 2012. The airlines argued that the directive violated the Chicago Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Open Skies Agreement [text, PDF]. However, the ECJ ruled that the directive does not violate the international agreements, noting that the EU is not a party to the Chicago Convention.

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