Non-EU summit signals emissions revolt

Russia could withhold permits from European airlines wanting to fly over Siberia on routes from Europe to Asia, if the European Union does not back down on its controversial inclusion of airlines in its emissions trading scheme (ETS).

Of the 26 or so countries who met this week in Moscow to discuss measures to derail Europe’s inclusion of non-EU airlines, 23 of them have signed a joint declaration calling on Brussels to suspend the directive and threatened measures if it failed to respond.

The ‘Moscow Joint Declaration’ issued on February 22 said the unilateral inclusion of international civil aviation in the ETS was an obstacle to ICAO’s work to address international aviation emissions. Signatories added that there had been a lack of constructive dialogue from EU states to address non-EU concerns.

The agreement was signed by Armenia, Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, China, Cuba, Guatemala, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Paraguay, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda and the United States.

The ‘coalition of the unwilling’, as it has been dubbed, has come up with a list of eight possible measures the signatories could take in retaliation.

The basket of actions and measures includes reviewing bilateral service agreements, including Open Skies with EU member states, and reconsidering the implementation or renegotiation of the ‘horizontal agreement’ with the EU; suspending current and future discussions and/or negotiations to enhance operating rights for EU airlines/aircraft operators; and imposing additional levies/charges on EU carriers/aircraft operators as a form of countermeasure.

Russia’s deputy minister of transport, Valery Okulov said Russia could cut the frequency of the EU airlines’ flights and create preferences for EU competitors from China, Japan and other Asian countries. Okulov also warned that Russia could legally ban the country’s airlines from participating in the ETS.

The draft law has already been submitted to Russia’s State Duma, or the lower house of parliament, Okulov said.

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