photo: Josh Beasley via flickr
This one's been inbound for a couple of years now, the United States objecting to the European Union's plans to make foreign airlines start paying for the carbon emissionsM from landing and taking off there from 2012, but as the New York Times reports, the US is upping the pressure--even if airlines have readied themselves to comply.Read the NYT article for the full blow-by-blow of the current brouhaha, and TreeHugger's links below for the history of this, but this is the short version:
In recent days, the United States, Canada, and Mexico have urged the International Civil Aviation Organization, an influential United Nations body, to pass a resolution starting that countries "seeking to implement an emissions trading system that applies to other contracting states' aircraft operators" do so only "on the basis of mutual agreement."
In other words, the EU wouldn't be able to implement the emissions reduction/trading plan on airlines without the airlines and the nations in which they are based agreeing to it. And considering that the plan would cost the airline industry about $3 billion annually, according to the International Air Transport Association, you can pretty much guess when such a plan will be agreed to, should that ICAO resolution happen. As it stands right now, some major airlines are taking steps to comply.
Which is only part of the story. The bigger part is one which plagues pretty much every carbon-intensive industry. No one wants to pay a thing to reduce emissions. Greening up their act is fine if it will save money--and often it will, Walmart's efforts have proven that--but should it not, even if it's the right thing to do for the environment, it simply won't happen until it forced upon them by regulation. And this ICAO resolution pretty much wouldn't allow that, or at least try not to allow it.
It's utter nonsense. Partially it's related the the fact that a corporation is blind to every motivation save maximizing profit, in the vast majority of cases, even at the expense of everything else.
But at a deeper level it's a continued apparent unwillingness to admit, both at the corporate and national level, that there is anything wrong with what has been business as usual for decades--that it's not small technological changes that are needed, but fundamental ones.
It's also seemingly an inability to think holistically about the environmental problems broadly, and climate change specifically, instead focusing in a reductionist manner just on the effect on short term gains or losses. I guess that's one way where the fictitious person of the corporation is really like the actual human person.
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More on Aviation:
Airlines To Be Included in EU Emission Trading Scheme From 2012 EU on Collision Course With US Over Airline Carbon Cap Proposal
In Future, UK's Environmental Authority Can Seize CO2-Spewing Planes