Green v. Ungreen

If this were a boxing match the Referee would announce:

“In that corner, smoking a cigar and clutching a money bag, is the overweight representative of corporate greed, North America. In the other corner, wearing green tights and matching singlet, with a cap sporting green feathers, is the representative of environmental sanity, the European Union.

This match is to determine whether airlines are to be responsible for carbon emissions and subject to compliance with government-imposed carbon fees.”

It is really not that simple. The President of the United States is green, at least in his speeches.  Certain European countries with large aviation industries are unhappy with EU policies on airline emissions.

What’s more, it is a battle where neither contestant will win outright.  The dispute over carbon fees to be paid by world airlines carrying passengers into Europe could easily escalate into a trade war.  Recently the US Senate unanimously passed legislation that gives the US Administration power to retaliate against any punitive action taken by the EU against US airlines that do not comply with these laws.

Switching to another metaphor, we have characterized the aviation industry as the wild west of carbon emissions.  No laws controlling carbon emissions so the sky is the limit – again metaphorically speaking.

Something must be done.  Perhaps – instead of more wrangling over Kyoto – the United Nations should fast track an international industry wide solution for aviation carbon emissions.  It will not be an easy task but it has a better chance of achieving an agreement, which is more than we can expect from Kyoto.

Will the US and the EU really engage in a trade war over airline carbon fees?

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