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EU Backs Down from Great Green Trade War

Yesterday the EU decided to postpone its controversial carbon charge for airlines after the US, India, Russia and China threatened a trade war. The original idea put forward by Europe’s greens was to include the aviation industry in the EU’s carbon-trading scheme, charging all flights travelling to or from EU member state airports for the carbon they emit. The reasoning behind the tax was clear: air travel is indeed a major source of carbon emissions. But airlines outside the EU weren’t having it. The WSJ reports:

China and India have told their airlines not to cooperate with the EU plan, and both houses of the U.S. Congress have passed legislation that would forbid U.S. carriers from participating, although the bills haven’t been reconciled and would need approval from President Barack Obama.

But negotiators from the European Parliament and representatives of EU member states on Tuesday agreed, as expected, to delay the implementation of the plan for a year.

The problems with this scheme were obvious from the outset. The higher prices of flight to and from Europe would be passed on to consumers, hurting the continent’s tourist industry, which is particularly vital for economically floundering countries like Greece. And as China demonstrated one year ago, foreign countries aren’t happy about paying to comply with EU law and are more than willing to threaten trade wars to protect their interests.

Once again, Europe’s affinity for hare-brained green policies has gotten it into hot water. The EU was smart to postpone the measure; it would be smarter still to scrap it altogether.

[Airplane contrail image courtesy of Shutterstock.]

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