US Airlines Must Pay the Price of Carbon Emissions or Lose EU Flights
If you're not attempting to reduce your airline's carbon emissions by flying the first all-biofuel jumbo-jet flight, the efficacy of which is in and of itself up for debate, the EU requires your airline to subscribe to a carbon trading *cough* scheme. And that includes you, good old U.S. of Airline, so get scheming. Yesterday the EU transport commissioner Jacques Barrot warned US airlines that they must pay for carbon dioxide emissions or face a curb on flights to the European Union. The operative concept here being to curb flights rather than carbon levels themselves.According to The Guardian, the green ultimatum was issued by Barrot as the transatlantic airline market undergoes its biggest shakeup in 30 years when limits on flights between the EU and US are lifted this month. All airlines flying in and out of the EU must subscribe to the EU emissions trading scheme or, as now suggested, an equivalent system in the US. The United States government and many airlines have insisted that there should be an international agreement first. European carriers want foreign rivals coopted into some program or other because airlines who refuse to buy carbon credits will offer lower fares. European ministers already scaled back their program in December deeming the measure a victory for the environment despite changes that include delaying its introduction and reducing the number of permits airlines would have to buy. However, environmentalists have criticized the EU decision as hypocritical in the wake of pledges made at a United Nations conference in Bali, Indonesia, where governments promised to make deep cuts in emissions. So while we're glad to see market forces to some degree jockeying the big players into dealing with atmospheric carbon, given the ticking clock of rising earth temperatures, we're a bit disappointed by EU optimism that the US too will begin carbon-scheming once Bush and Cheney are gone. Clearly what is needed is a moral commitment toward maintaining a healthy atmosphere as a necessity that is common to all life.
The approach to tackling the global-warming leviathan of jumbo jets; like the cynical political conclusion of self-interest derived from the now threadbare Hobbesian axiom that life in the state of nature necessarily be nasty, brutish and short; is in need of fresh conceptualization. Airlines and governments alike should endeavor to understand self-interest as multi-dimensional in the same way that travel itself is: one begins the journey as master of the manor but arrives a guest. Failing to see reciprocity and mutuality as a component of one's self-interest, not only reduces would be vitalizing economics to nothing more than greed, such a failing may also doom us to live and die in a clouded fishbowl of our own making.