China is tightening the screws on Europe in the trade war over environmental regulations for airliners. Following Europe’s announcement that airline carriers–foreign carriers included—would be forced to buy expensive “carbon offsets” for planes traveling to EU member states, China responded by putting plane orders from a number of European aerospace companies on hold. This has prompted these same companies to put pressure on EU regulators to relax these restrictions; the FT reports that a group of European air companies, led by Airbus, have inagurated a letter-writing campaign to European leaders urging them put the carbon offset scheme on hold for fear of lost jobs and revenues in European factories.
Once again, green overreaching looks like ending in debacle. Beyond the usual green follies, however, is a more important change—the rise of China and the decline of Europe. Not long ago Europeans would have laughed off Chinese complaints about domestic environmental schemes; today Chinese clout is such that even major European firms are joining it in putting pressure on continental heads of state. The change is dramatic. China has forced Europe into a corner; either give in to Chinese demands, or face the loss of business from one of the world’s largest economies. Things are changing.