U.S. airlines give up legal battle against Europe’s anti-pollution law

It’s official: U.S. airlines have given up their legal challenge to the European Union’s landmark law limiting global warming pollution from aviation.

Airlines have dropped a challenge in the UK High Court to the aviation directive three months after a ruling from the European Court of Justice, above, upheld the law. (Thanks and photo credit to Gwenaël Piaser)

It was an abrupt move by United, American, and their trade association, Airlines for America, none of which gave an explanation for dropping the case in the UK High Court in London less than 48 hours before the Court’s scheduled hearing.

We can only guess that after the European Court of Justice’s strong ruling  upholding the EU directive as consistent with international law, the airlines’ lawyers realized their efforts in the UK court would be fruitless.

EDF, with the transatlantic coalition of environmental groups that intervened in the litigation, said today that the airlines’ move presents an opportunity for industry to support a global deal to reduce emissions from aviation.

In a joint statement today from Aviation Environment Federation, Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice, EDF, Transport & Environment, and WWF-UK, we said:

Although we are pleased this avoids a pointless legal challenge in the UK, it is disappointing that U.S airlines are refusing to accept the ECJ ruling, and may simply be moving the battlefield elsewhere. …

United States, Europe, and other countries [should] work together with airlines and civil society to craft a global solution and enforceable domestic measures.

U.S. House industry-dominated “roundtable discussion” ignores significant developments

In related news, today the U.S. House of Representatives aviation subcommittee hosted a “roundtable discussion” on the EU law and “its impact on the U.S. aviation industry, international law, and global trade.”

However, in the 1.5 hours when participants from the Federal Aviation Administration, State Department and aviation industry delivered short remarks and fielded questions from Members of Congress, the latest updates from the law were noticeably absent. No mention was made that just three months ago, the EU’s highest court had ruled strongly against the airlines, or that yesterday the airlines had given up their latest challenge to the law.

Eyes now turn to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), where its Secretary General Raymond Benjamin has proposed to agree, by the end of the year, on global measures to reduce aviation emissions. We hope airlines use this opportunity to support a global deal.

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