India, Russia and China may consider imposing over-flight charges on European airlines, if the European Union (EU) continues with its plans of imposing a carbon tax on international airlines operating to the EU. The tax came into force from January 1.

A clearer picture is likely to emerge after an international conference in Moscow scheduled to begin on February 21. An inter-ministerial delegation drawn from the Ministries of External Affairs and Civil Aviation will attend the meet.

“There is growing acceptance between various countries, including the US and Brazil, on imposing some restrictions on the EU if they continue with their plans to impose the tax.

“If just India, Russia and China decide to start charging for over flying by European carriers or decide to restrict the number of flights being operated by them citing emission concerns, it could have a devastating effect on the European airline industry,” a senior Government official said on Friday.

Tough stance

Meanwhile, the Indian opposition to what it terms as a law that “offends Indian sovereignty” was conveyed yet again at a meeting in which the visiting EU Commissioner for Climate Action, Ms Connie Hedegaard, had with Ministers for Environment and Civil Aviation. “At Friday's meeting it was made clear that India and many other nations globally have little option of either accepting the new law or imposing retaliatory measures as the EU was being intransigence in its stand,” a senior Government official said.

Addressing a luncheon meeting, Ms Hedegaard told newspersons that her delegation had “constructive talks despite holding different views” with the Civil Aviation Minister.

“We must find a global way of reducing emission from aviation and agreed to continue the dialogue. But we are still not clear about the position of India and the US vis-a-vis ICAO. It's not just a wild idea by the Europeans that we made this law. It is a fair, market-based system. What EU did was fully respectful of international law. We would want ICAO to come up with a new system in 6-12 months that can be put into force,” she added.

A trade war?

Indian officials warn that the EU emission trading system had the potential to degenerate into a trade war, if the EU decides to implement it on other sectors such as maritime.

“What will happen if the EU says that ships manufactured after a particular year are not be allowed into their waters. The principle of charging beyond your shores is wrong,” a senior Government said.

ashphadnis@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 3, 2012)
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