Victory for Environmental Groups on EU emissions

21 Dec 2011

The Court of Justice of the European Union has today ruled that extending the EU emissions trading scheme to international aviation activities, under Directive 2008/101, does not breach public international law.  The extension will enter force as from 1 January 2012.

The Court rejected the claim from US airlines including United, Continental, American and their trade association, the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) that the Directive contravened the Open Skies Agreement 2007 between the EU and the US, and various customary international law principles including the principle of the sovereignty of States over their own air space.  It also held that the validity of the Directive could not be reviewed in the light of the Chicago Convention 1944 or the Kyoto Protocol 1997.

A unique transatlantic coalition of environmental groups consisting of three US-based organisations, the Environmental Defense Fund, Earthjustice, and the Center for Biological Diversity, as well as WWF-UK, Transport & Environment, and the Aviation Environment Federation in Europe, intervened in the proceedings, which were commenced in a judicial review in the High Court.

The Court concluded by stating that “examination of Directive 2008/101 has disclosed no factor of a kind that affects its validity.”

The coalition was represented by Jon Turner QC and Laura Elizabeth John.

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