EU's unreasonable charge

Updated: 2012-02-07 10:21

(China Daily)

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The Chinese government is clear-cut in its attitude towards the European Union's carbon emission charges on flights into and out of airports in EU member countries.

As the Civil Aviation Administration of China announced on Monday, the government does not allow China's domestic airlines to pay such charges as it regards the EU decision as unreasonable and arbitrary.

In the first place, this scheme, which came into effect on Jan 1, does not conform to international legal principle that each state has complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above its territory. The scheme constitutes an infringement on the sovereignty of other countries as it charges for carbon emissions emitted not just within the airspace of EU countries but during the entire flight.

It also runs contrary to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities enshrined by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In line with this principle, developing countries should be exempt from such charges.

Such charges can easily be considered as an arbitrary scheme EU has developed to rip off non-EU countries as there has been no mention of how the money the EU charges will be used and how it will benefit the campaign against climate change.

What is realistic and pressing is the rapid rise in costs for all airlines worldwide.

It is estimated that the cost of Chinese airlines' flights to EU countries would have to increase by about 300 yuan ($48) per ticket to cover new charge. The China Air Transport Association has estimated that the EU scheme might cost Chinese airlines about 800 million yuan in the first year and about 17.6 billion yuan from 2012 to 2020. While the levy will probably earn the EU an income of about 900 million euros ($1,177 million) this year, rising to 2.8 billion euros by 2020.

We can see no sincerity and earnestness in this scheme to help fight against climate change. Rather we see the hypocrisy and condescending manner of the EU lording it over the rest of the world.

As such, there is concern that this may be just the beginning of the EU using its leading position in low-carbon technology to levy carbon taxes on other high-carbon industries. If this is the case then the fight against global warming is merely an excuse for the EU to rip off developing countries, where energy intensity is high thanks to their lack of low-carbon technology.

In this way the underdevelopment and disadvantage of developing countries, which have been caused, to certain extent, by some European countries' colonization, is feeding the greediness of their former colonizers.

We must fight against it.