The EU’s institutions – backed up by five member states, Norway and the coalition of environmental NGOs led by T&E – defended the EU’s position in a one-day hearing at the European Court of Justice earlier this month. The EU strongly rejects the legal action from Continental, American and United airlines, which says aviation emissions can only be tackled by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and thus the EU’s decision regarding air travel to emissions trading is illegal.
T&E programme officer Bill Hemmings said: ‘The American airlines have a long history of actively seeking to disrupt any and all measures to cut climate changing emissions. This case is another cynical attempt to derail a modest and cost-effective climate initiative that would add little more than €6 to the price of a transatlantic flight. Introducing aviation into the ETS is a welcome first step towards dealing with aviation’s growing climate impact, but it is only a first step.’
The EU’s action has been supported in an editorial by the Washington Post newspaper. Under the headline ‘The EU has the right idea in regulating greenhouse gases from airplanes’, the paper says: ‘The Obama administration should agree, and press others to agree, that the Europeans have good reason to want to account for the pollution of all aircraft servicing their market.’
The court’s Advocate General will give her opinion on 6 October. The final judgement will follow later, but opinions from the Advocate General have often proved to be a reliable indication of final judgements.