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8 Feb, 2012

China Again Blasts EU: Cannot Act As Sole Toll Bearer of the Skies

By Yu Jincui (Global Times) February 07, 2012

Full Text of Commentary reprinted in the official Chinese publication People’s Daily Online

Beijing – China has taken a tough stance against the EU charges on carbon emissions from flights in and out of the EU by forbidding domestic airlines from taking part in the carbon-emissions system on Monday. According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, Chinese airlines are not allowed to pay the tax or add on other fees without government permission.

The news spread online quickly and was welcomed by most. In a Sina survey conducted, 85.1 percent of respondents thought China should go further and file a lawsuit against the EU.

The EU started thinking about imposing charges on carbon emissions from airlines at the end of 2008. This proved controversial from the very beginning and was fiercely opposed by dozens of countries including the US, China and Russia, but EU stuck to its guns, even threatening to ban dissenters. It could not convince people that the scheme was purely for environmental protection purposes. The Civil Aviation Administration of China said that the civil aviation industry of China would have to pay least 800 million yuan ($126.7 million) in 2012 and approximately 17.6 billion yuan in the next 9 years if they were forced to join the system.

The scheme is unfavorable to both developed and developing countries. It could not only hit airline companies mired in a financial crisis, but also breaches the principle of common and differential liabilities in dealing with climate change as laid out in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

It is questioning whether the problem of carbon emissions could be really solved by adopting such a scheme, but it is obvious that the EU is looking to make others pay for its carbon emissions.

To fight against the EU, the US filed a lawsuit at the end of 2009 but failed as the court defended the EU charges, saying they neither violated relevant international taxation laws nor international agreements on airspace. Now China is delivering its punch.

In essence, the EU decision to charge for carbon emissions from flights is a unilateral decision that could only be met with opposition. Such a decision could act as a kind of trade barrier.

The EU should wake up to the fact that a program that has no support among other countries could hardly be operable.

Curbing global warming is our shared goal. There is still some time to negotiate to find a solution.