Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Senior Research Fellow Gabriel S. Sanchez is quoted in an article on the international dispute over the EU emissions plan appearing today in the Atlantic. See Mark Schapiro, Green War in the Skies: Can Europe Make U.S. Planes Pay for Pollution?, the Atlantic, Oct. 5, 2011 (available here). For those interested, the entire piece is a good summary of the issue to date, but the final paragraph was particularly intriguing:
What happens in the airspace over the North Atlantic, and how the European Court of Justice handles the contribution that the greenhouse gases emitted there make to climate change, has in many ways become a stand-in for the airspace of the world--a distinction in the sky that is, of course, not a natural but diplomatic creation. When the world's diplomats convene in Durban in late November for another round of climate negotiations, they will most likely be contending with the European Union as the sole government demonstrating a sustained commitment to the global principles of the (about to expire) Kyoto Protocol. Few new global initiatives are expected, leaving individual governments to devise their own widely varying approaches to climate change. The dispute in Luxemburg could be the harbinger of tensions to come.
Despite aviation law lagging behind international trade law in other sectors in its degree of liberalization, climate change is one area where the aviation sector has the potential to serve as a leader or test case for the future of global cooperation in other sectors. The reality that aviation emissions occur in international air space through activity serving multiple states makes air transport an ideal sector in which to approach greenhouse gas emissions as an international issue. The possibility that the airline emissions dispute will have ramifications for global emissions agreements beyond the aviation sector adds even more reason to follow the issue closely, beginning (if you haven't been following already) with the ECJ opinion expected tomorrow.