UK minister accused of stabbing EU ETS in the back over aviation comments

By RTCC Staff

The UK’s new business minister has been accused of stabbing the EU’s emissions trading scheme (EU-ETS) in the back, after appearing to support warnings from airline manufacturers that it will affect their sales.

China has threatened to retaliate if the EU imposes the ETS on its airlines.

Reuters reports that China has already frozen trade deals in the region of $14 billion since the dispute started – although it did agree last week to buy 50 Airbus planes worth over $4 billion.

Speaking at the ILA Berlin Air Show UK business minister Michael Fallon was reported as saying: “Airbus has left us with no doubt that the threat of retaliatory action is a clear and present danger to its order list. We are very much aware the clock is ticking. We have limited time left.”

But suggestions this could mark an official change in EU policy were quickly quashed by European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, who said media reports to the contrary were ‘odd’.

Fallon’s remarks were branded a “stab in the back” for EU negotiators involved in the ETS.

Chris Davis, Liberal Democrat environmental spokesperson in the European Parliament told Reuters: “Europe’s negotiating strength depends on our unity and our determination. Nothing will be achieved by showing weakness in the way this poorly informed junior minister would like.”

Fallon joined the UK government following a ‘reshuffle’ at the start of September. Green groups have already expressed disappointment with two other appointees, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and Energy Minister John Hayes, who have been accused of being hostile to the climate agenda.

Controversial scheme

Aviation was brought under the EU ETS in January 2012. It has since faced criticism both from European airlines, travel companies together with India, China, Russia and the USA.

The US Senate is considering a ban on US airlines complying with the law, while China and India have both prohibited their airlines from participation in the scheme – which requires all airlines flying through Europe to buy permits for the carbon emitted during their journey.

China has also threatened to block purchases of European aircrafts by its carriers, prompting alarm by aircraft manufacturers – notably Airbus, which sees China as a growing market.

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