As I have discussed on several occasions the EU policy of levying carbon charges on US (and other) international air carriers flying in and out of Europe is simply a border tax adjustment that ensures the competitive neutrality of European airlines also subject to the charge. The latest decision by the US Senate – not rejected by a single Democrat senator incidentally – to “reject” such charges is a immoral act of selfishness on the part of the US. It accords with the US official position of being insincere in addressing climate change but also puts pressure on European governments who are seeking to address the problem – it forces unfavourable carbon leakages to the polluting US carriers who are effectively having their pollution subsidised by Europe. If the US “rejection” works then European carriers will suffer a competitive disadvantage in offering air services on European routes simply because Europe is addressing climate change. The US was already being selfish but now it is actively intervening to undermine international efforts to address climate change.
It is not clear to me that the “rejection” will succeed – is it fanciful to suppose European airports would refuse landing rights to US carriers who have unpaid bills? I hope it isn’t. Ongoing US hypocrisy on the climate issue – they once threatened China with the border measures that are now being applied to them by Europe – is so unreasonable. The fight between a lunatic Republican right and a spineless bunch of democrats at the centre of US politics is obscuring the important issues the largest economy in the world should be addressing. (1998)