Tomorrow morning the highest court in the European Union will issue a landmark ruling in a legal challenge originally filed by three US airlines and their trade association. In the lawsuit, the airlines challenged the legality of Europe’s pioneering program to reduce emissions from flights to, from, and within the EU.
The Court of Justice of the European Union announced some weeks ago that it would release its opinion in the case on December 21. So, on the eve of the announcement of the decision of the European Union’s highest court, what did the US government do? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood sent a letter to the leadership of the European Union objecting to the EU’s law to limit global warming pollution from aviation. Further, they threatened to “take appropriate action” should the EU implement its law.
While the positions outlined in the letter are not new—they simply restate what others in the Administration have been saying for the past few months—it is greatly disappointing that that Obama Administration, instead of waiting a few more days for the ruling of Europe’s highest court, would choose this moment to elevate its objections to cabinet level, especially when the US has never clearly stated the basis for the “legal concerns” it has often mentioned.
The US should be playing a constructive role in the global effort to reduce emissions and avoid dangerous climate change. And, just as companies operating within US borders have to comply with US laws, we would hope that the US would respect the rule of law and direct its companies to comply with the duly enacted laws of countries in which they operate.
Stay tuned for our full reaction to the ECJ ruling tomorrow.