Recently, the European Union’s decision to regulate jet emissions within the EU has been backed by a high European Court. The EU law will charge airlines for the greenhouses gases airlines emit during landing and taking off in the EU, and the law set to go into effect January 1, 2012. According to the European Court of Justice Advocate-General Juliane Kokott, airlines will need to “surrender emission allowances in various amounts, depending on the flight” and if they do not comply with previously set standards, the airlines will face penalties.
While this seems like a great way to curb greenhouse gases in the EU while putting pressure on airlines to reduce their emissions or face stiff fines, many critics of the new law believe that the EU is acting unilaterally and beyond their scope of power. Three American airlines who routinely fly in and out of the EU challenged the law in a European court in 2009. The case was referred to the ECJ to determine whether the plan violated international agreements, and was out of the scope of the EU’s power to enact such law. The US airlines argued that the EU “breached the sovereignty of other countries and violated existing international aviation treaties.” Additionally, the airlines claimed that the law will not actually lead to less emissions, but only lead to higher fees for passengers, who will pick up the extra costs to the airlines for their fines/penalties.
Is this law a good way for the EU to improve their climate change policy and to effectively reduce emissions? Or, will the law be ineffective in reducing emissions since airlines will continue to emit the same amount of gasses, and simply pass on the extra cost to passengers? Was the EU even within their scope of power to create such a law?