EU Issues Green Ultimatum on to US Airlines

us airlines 01 EU Issues Green Ultimatum on to US Airlines

There’s good news this month in the friendly skies for Americans wanting to go to Europe, as the limits on flights between the U.S. and the EU are scheduled to be lifted. But don’t start packing yet, because if Jacques Barrot, the European Union’s transport commissioner, has his way, this news will be short lived and quickly followed by no flights to Europe.

No flights? That’s right. Barrot is clamping down hard on U.S. airlines, saying if they don’t start paying for their CO2 emissions, they won’t be able to fly to the EU. The transatlantic airline market, which, according to a recent article in The Guardian, is undergoing “its biggest shakeup in 30 years”, will be negotiating phase two of its international treaty with the U.S. department of transportation that will demand that U.S. airlines implement an acceptable emissions scheme or follow the guidelines already established by the EU.

us airlines 04 EU Issues Green Ultimatum on to US Airlines

The EU commissioner says the EU has the right to deny flying rights if the U.S. – which so far has refused to allow its airlines to join a carbon trading scheme – doesn’t step up to the environmental plate. “It’s always possible to imagine reducing the number of flights or suspending certain rights,” Barrot said, adding his belief that a deal might not be reached until President Bush leaves office and a new administration takes over.

The article says that all “EU airlines must join the emissions trading scheme in 2012, which could add up to £13 to the price of a return flight as carriers buy ‘carbon credits’.” And while the regulations will apply to all airlines going and coming from the EU, the International Air Transport Association says there are 170 countries opposing the mandate.

Barrot also stated that security measures requested by the United States – namely that Washington be provided data for all passengers flying over the U.S. – are, according to the article, “disproportionate and will not be accepted by the EU”.

So, will the U.S. not be allowed to fly to Europe? It’s certainly possible. As part of the terms of the open skies treaty, the EU can suspend air travel from the U.S. to Europe as early as 2012 if progress toward reaching an agreement is not made by 2010.

Once again, it seems the environmentally-based concerns are boiling down to money. The EU fears that airlines who don’t buy carbon credits will be able to offer lower priced fares, which will drastically affect the business of those who do.

So, if you’re saving up to see Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower in 2011, you might want to consider pushing up the date of your trip.

(via The Guardian)

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