Chinese and Indian Airlines Miss Deadline for Submitting 2011 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data; However, Despite Objections US Airlines Comply

It was recently reported that eight Chinese and two Indian airlines failed to provide data on their 2011 greenhouse gas emissions, as required under the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (“EU-ETS”). Both governments had previously signaled that their respective airlines would not comply with this requirement. As mentioned before in an earlier post, China and India are just two of many countries that are fighting inclusion in the EU-ETS, however, airlines from other objecting countries such as the United States, Russia and Brazil did provide timely emissions data.

According to Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s Commissioner on Climate Change, the ten noncompliant Chinese and Indian airlines account for less than 1% of the more than 1,200 airlines that are subject to the trading scheme. EU authorities have given the noncompliant airlines a fast-approaching deadline of mid-June to submit their emissions data.

It is important to note that the EU Commission has provided non-EU airlines a way out. Non-EU airlines can be exempted from the scheme if their home countries adopt “equivalent measures” to reduce aviation greenhouse gas emissions. China has taken a recent step that may fit this exclusion. Chinese airlines levy fees on passengers for airport construction; recently however, these fees have been repurposed into a general civil aviation development fund to be used on energy conservation and emissions reduction schemes, along with other non-emissions related projects. According to Hedegaard, the EU delegation in Beijing is reviewing this move to determine whether it qualifies as an equivalent measure.

If it does qualify, will other countries follow China and adopt similar “equivalent measures”? Or, will taking advantage of the “equivalent measures” exclusion be seen as accepting regulation by the EU? Objecting countries have consistently stated that their position is more about national sovereignty than environmental protection. 

As this issue progresses, please check back to this blog for future posts.