China will not cooperate with the EU on the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) - the European system on airlines' right to pollute - Chai Haibo, the secretary-general of the China Air Transport Association (CATA), told AFP. Yet all airlines - regardless of whether they are European or not - that operate on European soil are bound to comply with the new regulation since 1 January. "Nothing new," Isaac Valero Ladron, the European Commission's spokesperson commented. He added that the position of Chinese airlines was "well known". Nevertheless, Valero Ladron specified that "all the Chinese airlines operating in the EU acquired, on 30 September 2011, the required emission rights totalling 85% of quotas, which are allocated for free: this proves that the system works".

CATA (which comprises of most of the Chinese airlines, including the four biggest: Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and Hainan Airlines) is "strongly opposed to the European bad practice of unilaterally forcing international companies to enter the ETS," said Chai, recalling his position. Said position had already been argued by CATA's Secretary-General, Wei Zhenzhong, who stated that "Chinese airlines will not participate in the ETS, will not provide a carbon surveillance plan for EU countries, and will not negotiate preferential policies with the EU". Chai added that retaliatory measures were being considered at the level of the highest Chinese authorities, namely within the Finance and Foreign Affairs Ministries and of the economic planning agency NDRC.

Valero Ladron refuses to discuss "retaliatory measures or reprisals": talks are ongoing with third-country governments, including China, the US, Canada or Russia. Valero Ladron recalled that the directive is compatible with international law and that it does not infringe on the national sovereignty of third countries, as confirmed by the EU Court of Justic, on 21 December 2011 (see Europolitics 4332-33). The EU "will not go back on its legislation, and will not repeal it: it befalls other countries to respect it," he insisted.


Directive 2008/101/EC provides that from 1 January 2012 all European and non-European airlines operating on EU territory (landing and take-off) must take part in the ETS. It also provides, as the...

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