EU Airline Carbon Tax Hurts Climate Change Fight, Claims China And India

By Nigam Prusty

NEW DELHI, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The European Union's move to charge airlines for carbon emissions violates international laws and jeopardises global efforts to fight climate change, the BASIC group of countries, which includes China, said on Tuesday.

From Jan. 1, all airlines using EU airports have come under the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, and any airline that does not comply could face a fine of 100 euros ($128) for each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted for which they have not surrendered allowances.

In the case of persistent offenders, the EU has the right to ban airlines from its airports - rules that have drawn protest from airlines around the world. China said it would bar its carriers from taking part.

In a two-day meeting in New Delhi that ended on Tuesday, the environment ministers of Brazil, South Africa, India and China, known as the BASIC bloc, said the EU rule ran counter to the idea of "multilateralism" and to the provisions of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

"Ministers noted that the unilateral action by EU in the name of climate change was taken despite strong international opposition and would seriously jeopardise the international efforts to combat climate change," they said in a joint statement.

"The ministers recognised the threat of similar unilateral measures being considered by developed countries in the name of climate change in the area of international shipping and expressed their concern."

Foreign governments say Brussels has exceeded its legal jurisdiction by calculating the carbon cost over the whole flight, not just Europe.

Non-EU airlines say the levy is discriminatory.

But in December the European Union's highest court said the EU was acting within the law.

The European Commission has also said it resorted to including all airlines in its scheme only after more than a decade of talks at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) failed to deliver a global solution to curb the impact of airline emissions.

Increasingly, governments and the EU's executive European Commission are looking to the U.N.'s ICAO to come up with a worldwide scheme. (Writing by Krittivas Mukherjee, editing by Jane Baird)

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