I managed to avoid listening to pretty much all of Obama’s election victory speech but managed to click onto a news site that had a streaming video of it, and caught his tepid reference to climate change, a passing comment on “the destructive power of a warming planet.” This wasn’t a commitment of any kind; I took this as a sign simply that the president now feels he has to give global warming lip service.
This news story, of Obama undermining an EU carbon tax, is consistent with that theory.
I wonder if the EU is prepared to escalate. It could easily threaten to deny carriers who don’t pay the taxes the right to land or refuel, or alternatively, impose the tax through airports (as in have them bundled into the fees that the airports charge for gate usage). This really is US exceptionalism in action. We pay more than our fair share of NATO, per us, ergo, we think we can push the EU around. And that is probably correct, at least in the short term.
By Charles Kennedy, a writer for Oil Price. Cross posted from Oil Price
The EU has set a tax on carbon emissions for all aircraft flying into European countries, all part of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The problem is that Obama has just signed a bill that exempts US airlines from paying that carbon tax.
Specifically the bill gives the US transportation secretary the power to shield US airlines from the tax; an unusual bill, according to Reuters, as it allows US airlines to ignore EU laws.
Clark Stevens, a spokesman from the White House, explained that “the Obama administration is firmly committed to reducing harmful carbon pollution from civil aviation both domestically and internationally, but, as we have said on many occasions, the application of the EU ETS to non-EU air carriers is the wrong way to achieve that objective.”
He also stated that Obama is focused on finding a global solution to reduce emissions with the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
Well I suppose that this is kind of acceptable; that Obama has decided to forgo a European solution to concentrate on a global one. However, the ICAO’s ‘global solution’ has already been in the pipeline for over ten years and still no progress has been made. It was for this exact reason that the EU got fed up and decided to take matters into their own hands by creating their own aviation carbon tax.
Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate chief, was quick to voice her disapproval at Obama’s actions. She said that immediately after his re-election Obama had admitted that the US had not done enough on climate change. This bill just reinforces that statement, and suggests that the US still has little intention on making any significant contribution.