, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 21 -The European Union (EU) has remained firm that it will not consider any modifications in its recent directive that requires all airlines entering and leaving EU airspace to hold permits covering their carbon emissions.
The directive that came into force in January this year is meant to regulate aviation emission of green house gases that cause climate change.
EU Commissioner for Climate Change Connie Hedegaard said on Tuesday that the directive was in line with international obligations as ruled by the European Court of Justice in December last year when some American airlines had challenged the directive.
“We have our legislation and that’s that. But I must say, I think it’s interesting that a lot of countries that for many years did not want to move their position when we had talks about a global system for regulating emissions from aviation, now they say because of the EU directive, they would want to engage in a global regime. Nobody is happier than the European Union if we could have such a regime,” she said.
The European Union’s Green House Gas emissions trading system has been in place since 2005 and was recently amended to be binding on the airline industry beginning this year.
Under the system, carbon dioxide emissions from airlines would be capped at the average of 2004 to 2006 levels of all of the EU member states.
The airline operators that fly in and out of EU airports are compelled to pay emission allowances equal to the Green House Gas emissions associated with their flight into and out of EU airports, irrespective of whether the emissions occurred inside or outside of EU airspace.
Some countries opposed to the scheme are currently meeting in Moscow to discuss way forward.
Russia is said to have initiated the talks.
“But let me send one clear message to those countries meeting right now in Moscow, What do they like, what do they want us to do? Europe is ready, we were ready for more than 10 years instead of this negative unification of what they do not like,” Hedegaard stated.
For more than 10 years, Europe lobbied for a global regulation on the aviation sector in regard to carbon emissions without success.
At the same time, the EU said the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development to be held in June must come out with concrete action plan that would address the plight of vulnerable communities.
Hedegaard said local populations were getting inpatient with the numerous meetings that seemed not to bring tangible change and so the Rio summit must deliver.
Speaking at the ongoing 12th UNEP governing council meeting in Nairobi which is a precursor to the Rio+ 20 summit, she said food security, water, energy and climate change were some of the critical issues that should be tackled seriously.
“You were told there was this Durban conference, and now they are meeting in Nairobi, then they will meet in Rio, I think it is extremely important that such a big multilateral event like Rio +20 will not afterwards just be called a talking shop. We should take care that we are not just creating a very big Christmas tree for Rio,” she warned.
EU Commissioner for Environment Janez Potocnik said there was need to adopt Green growth to address some of the challenges the world faced.
“This is something on which we would need to focus and have a clear message all together. I am happy that this green growth in the context of supporting sustainable development is on the table in Rio and it is important that we get the message across,” he said.