Monday, 06 February 2012

China Rejects “Illegal” EU Carbon Tax on Airlines

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The Chinese government announced on Monday that it would prohibit its airlines from paying a controversial “carbon tax” on flights to and from Europe imposed by the European Union, putting the continental regime in a tough bind as it seeks assistance from Beijing to tackle the region’s spiraling debt crisis. Unspecified retaliatory measures will be taken if the EU persists, according to Chinese officials, who say the taxes violate international treaties.

The U.S., Indian, and Russian governments are also vehemently opposed to the EU taxation scheme — supposedly aimed at tackling “climate change” based on controversial United Nations theories that “global warming” may be linked to human activities. A broad coalition of airlines around the world has balked at the tax as well. And analysts say the EU could be instigating a global trade war.  

"China hopes Europe will act in the light of the broader issues of responding to global climate change, the sustainable development of international aviation and Sino-European ties, strengthening communication and coordination to find an appropriate solution acceptable to both sides," an unnamed official with China's civil aviation authority was quoted as saying in media reports.

And if the EU does not back down from what governments around the world have blasted as an “illegal” tax, there will be consequences. "The Chinese side will also consider taking necessary measures to protect the interest of the Chinese public and businesses based on developments," the unnamed official said in a statement.  

The Chinese Air Transport Association, which represents all four of the nation’s largest airlines, celebrated the government’s announcement. "We and the Chinese government have repeatedly and clearly expressed our views on this policy, which are in line with those of the U.S.," CATA spokesman Chai Haibo was quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal. "These instructions from the [Civil Aviation Administration of China] represent the next step in our opposition to this scheme, which is unreasonable and illegal."

In the United States, Congress passed a bill last year prohibiting American air carriers from participating in the EU scheme or paying for any “carbon credits.” Even the Obama administration has opposed the plan.

Indian officials, meanwhile, have threatened to retaliate if the EU does not back down — possibly even imposing a charge on European flights flying over the nation’s airspace. And at least 25 national governments outside of Europe have also already announced their opposition to the EU’s tax.

Airlines and associations representing them around the world, meanwhile, have emerged as among the most vocal critics of the European plan. Last year a coalition of American air carriers sued the EU to stop the plan. And worldwide, industry groups are keeping the pressure on with backing from governments.

"We're now at the stage that it's absolutely clear that a whole host of foreign governments are not going to allow the EU to do this," Director-General Andrew Herdman of the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines told Reuters. Other analysts agree. 

The regional regime purporting to rule over the formerly sovereign nations of Europe, however, has not backed down yet despite the overwhelming international pressure. Various spokesmen for the EU have told reporters that they believe airlines and foreign governments will eventually comply with the entity’s rules. 

"Europe is a green leader in the world and we try to live up to our aspirations," claimed EU “Ambassador” to China Markus Ederer during a press conference. “Airplanes are an important source of emissions. They should be regulated." It was not immediately clear how the tax would “regulate” emissions.

The regional entity, desperate for its own independent sources of revenue, has proposed Europe-wide taxes on everything from financial transactions to energy use. Unsurprisingly, its European “Court of Justice” ruled last year that the tax on air travelers was legal — the EU hopes to extract billions of dollars each year from airlines and passengers as its taxation scheme ramps up.

But as the EU continues its efforts to erect a costly carbon-credit regime to finance its increasingly controversial operations, the CO2 system is under increasing fire. Widespread fraud, human rights violations, and even murders have all been linked to the unilateral EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).

Just last year, for example, human rights groups exposed the brutality involved in securing EU “emissions permits” in Uganda. An EU- and World Bank-funded company was caught brutally evicting some 20,000 poor villagers from their land and burning their houses to the ground, all to plant trees for the carbon scheme.

In Honduras, meanwhile, the EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS) has been linked to the murders of dozens of peasants. And as the regional entity’s appetite for mandatory “carbon credits” increases, the poor in the developing world — already struggling to survive — are expected to suffer the most. 

As the scandals grow and the UN global warming theories become increasingly discredited, EU “climate change” boss Connie Hedegaard is struggling to stay relevant. The upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio will seek to avoid the controversial subject of “global warming” altogether.

So, Hedegaard is branching out. She told the UK Guardian — widely perceived as an “alarmist” publication for continuing to peddle discredited climate theories — that the world should rethink the concept of “economic growth.” Again, the poorest would be the hardest hit.

But despite the overwhelming opposition to the EU air tax plan, critics of the UN’s controversial climate theories and its efforts to impose global taxes may have a bigger monster to fear. One of the main arguments used by pro-carbon tax governments in the battle against the EU’s scheme is that it could hinder the development of a truly global CO2 regime for airlines with taxes paid to the UN instead.

The communist dictatorship ruling mainland China, meanwhile, has cited its brutal “one-child policy” — which often leads to forced abortions — as an example of the measures it is taking to fight carbon emissions. It is also a fervent backer of half-baked UN plans to erect a global climate regime — especially if “rich countries” are forced to absorb most of the economic hardship. 

The EU’s carbon tax on air travelers is not scheduled to be in full swing until next year. But the continental regime, already under fire for bullying populations and overthrowing elected leaders, is expected by many analysts to lose this particular battle. The UN, on the other hand, might still emerge victorious in its quest for carbon revenues.

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Photo: London's Heathrow airport