EU demands that US airlines pay for carbon dioxide emissions

This past week, European Union transport commissioner Jacques Barrot clearly stated that US must pay for carbon dioxide emissions or risk a curb on flights to Europe. As the Open Skies agreement lifts limits on flight between the US and the EU this month, Barrot is calling for a second phase of the treaty that would demand US airlines to join the EU emission trading scheme, or to create a similar one in the US.

Tension between the US and the EU regarding the airline industry is already high. In February, the Bush administration gave the EU its own expectations — more data should be provided to the American government on European passengers flying to the US — which Barrot deemed as a step “not proportionate” to existing security problems.

While the Bush administration threatened to require citizens of countries that did not comply with its demands to apply for visas, the EU says that if US carriers don’t “go green” they could face equally frustrating consequences. “It’s always possible to imagine reducing the number of flights or suspending certain rights,” Barrot said. That would mean less transatlantic flights, which could subsequently lead to higher prices for passengers.