Effort in Moscow to coordinate attack on EU aviation emissions law fizzles

Countries have failed in Moscow to agree on any joint moves against the European Union’s pioneering law to curb emissions from aviation at a two-day meeting that ended there yesterday.

The declaration coming out of the Moscow meeting, which was reportedly attended by representatives of countries and the aviation industry, states the 23 signing countries will merely "consider" taking actions against Europe for its pioneering law to curb emissions from aviation. EDF's Annie Petsonk said "Today's failure to reach agreement on a coordinated attack indicates cooler heads may have prevailed." (Thanks and photo credit to Flickr user Aleksander Markin)

The meeting, which was preceded by great deal of hype about 26 countries’ supposedly working toward a “basket of countermeasures” against Europe, produced a joint declaration signed by 23 countries that included a “Basket of ACTIONS/ MEASURES.”

However,  yesterday’s Joint declaration of the Moscow meeting on inclusion of international civil aviation in the Eu-ETS only says countries will “consider taking actions/ measures” against the EU. No single coordinated attack emerged from the meeting, and Russia’s Deputy Transportation Minister Valery Okulov said in a press conference that countries themselves “will choose the most effective and reliable measures that will help to cancel or postpone the implementation of the EU ETS (Emissions Trading System).”

In EDF’s statement following the meeting, Annie Petsonk, EDF’s International Counsel said:

The airlines ginned up a laundry list of actions they wanted governments to take so that airlines don’t have to comply with a reasonable law to cut global warming pollution.

Today’s failure to reach agreement on a coordinated attack indicates cooler heads may have prevailed, and if so, they are to be commended.

This Moscow gathering was a follow-up to one that took place in India last September, where the U.S., Saudi Arabia and 23 other countries signed a statement that suggested opposition to the EU law, the world’s first program to reduce global warming pollution from aviation.

ICAO action to cut aviation pollution is critical

The first action/measure in Moscow’s “Basket” is launching an “Article 84” case under the Chicago Convention on Civil Aviation — a formal protest against the EU law at the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Countries, the aviation industry and environmentalists have all called for a global system to be developed through ICAO, but 14 years of negotiations has yielded nothing.

ICAO Secretary General Raymond Benjamin had warned weeks prior to the Moscow meeting that a decision by any nation to launch an Article 84 case would distract ICAO from designing and obtaining global agreement on effective, market-based measures to address aviation greenhouse gas emissions.

EDF thinks such constructive participation can help ICAO achieve an effective and durable outcome, which is the best path toward resolving the current dispute. Petsonk said:

Had an Article 84 case been launched, that surely would have called into question the seriousness of the claims of industry and some nations that they truly want a solution in ICAO.

Speaking of industry, the airline industry trade association International Air Transport Association (IATA) was reportedly present at the meeting. However, EDF knows of no “civil society” group invited to the Moscow meeting. Petsonk said in EDF’s statement:

With such a limited invite list, the meeting didn’t present an opportunity for a balanced discussion. Civil society must be afforded equal opportunity to participate in ICAO’s work going forward. Such participation can help ICAO achieve an effective and durable outcome.

These countries have agreed to meet again later this year in Saudi Arabia.

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