Inclusion of International Civil Aviation in European Union-Emission Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) and its Impact

Regardless of Non-EU States’ objections and concerns, EU had unilaterally passed the regulation to include aviation in the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The EU-ETS affects all aircraft operators regardless of where they are based, provided that they operate flights departing from and / or arriving at an aerodrome in the EU.

Government of India has always opposed this unilateral scheme. The Ministry of Civil Aviation had written a letter to the European Commission on 16th May 2011, stating that the Government’s decision is that the EU-ETS or any such market based measure could only be imposed after bilateral agreements with the EU Member States.

Failing to get any positive response from EU, Ministry of Civil Aviation of India had convened a meeting of all non-EU member States in ICAO Council along with a few other member States of ICAO in New Delhi on 29-30 September 2011 to develop a coordinated and unified stand against the scheme. The meeting was very successful and a Declaration was unanimously adopted urging the EU not to subject non-EU carriers to this scheme. The Declaration was signed in New Delhi by Representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Paraguay, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, the United States of America and the United Arab Emirates.

Consequently in the Council of ICAO in Montreal, India has taken a lead to organize a strong group of ICAO non-EU Council Members to join hands to oppose EU ETS in its current form. The Representative of India to the Council of ICAO presented a working paper for ICAO Council using the elements of New Delhi Declaration of September 2011 which was endorsed by 26 Member States in the 194th session of the Council of ICAO on 2nd November 2011. The 26 non-EU member States supporting the working paper are Argentina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America.

After a long debate in the Council of ICAO the Working Paper presented by India and supported by 25 other States was fully adopted by the ICAO Council. The ICAO council also adopted the New Delhi Declaration of 30th September 2011. The action points in the Working Paper adopted by ICAO Council are as follows:

ICAO Council to:

a) take note of the implication of inclusion of aviation in the EU ETS with regard to provisions of the Chicago Convention;

b) continue working on the basis of paragraphs 13 and 18 of Resolution A37-19;

c) re-affirm the importance of the role of ICAO in addressing aviation emissions;

d) welcome and adopt the Joint Declaration adopted in New Delhi on 30 September 2011;

e) urge the EU and its Member States to refrain from including flights by non-EU carriers to/from an airport in the territory of an EU Member State in its emissions trading system; and

f) urge EU and its Member States to work collaboratively with the rest of the international community to address aviation emissions.

This is a historic decision taken by ICAO against the unilateral measure introduced by EU and vindicates the stand of India and other countries opposed to this scheme. Further action in this regard has to be initiated by the EU and the international community is eagerly awaiting EU's decision in light of the ICAO Council Resolution taken on 2nd November 2011.

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