European Support for EU-ETS Begins To Show Cracks

 - September 18, 2012, 3:20 PM

The political momentum pushing for the European Union (EU) to abandon the unilateral imposition of its controversial emissions trading scheme (ETS) on non-European states increased last week, when four senior government ministers from France, Spain, Germany and the UK publicly called for the policy to be suspended or at least implemented more flexibly. The so-called “Airbus ministers,” representing the four partner nations in the Airbus consortium, made the announcement during a press conference at the ILA airshow in Berlin.

EU leaders have previously said that they would prefer to achieve a multilateral, global agreement over cutting aircraft carbon emissions. But the statement made at ILA marks the first time government ministers have explicitly said that EU-ETS should be scrapped in its current form–a move clearly motivated by concerns about the threat of a trade war.

But it remains to be seen whether EU officials will respond to calls from just four of the union’s 27 member states to suspend the implementation of ETS, which went into full force at the beginning of the year. The International Civil Aviation Organization has indicated that it is willing and able to broker an alternative global agreement on controlling aircraft emissions, but it is far from certain whether any such deal would be achieved by the April 2013 EU-ETS deadline.