AFRICA ABSENT AS WORLD UNITES AGAINST THE EUS ETS
As the war of words intensifies, between the European Union on one side and key global powers like China, Russia and the United States, over the hugely controversial emission trading scheme the EU had introduced on January 01 this year, African governments are notably absent again from the scene and silent on the subject, much to the disappointment of leading African airlines like Ethiopian, Kenya Airways, South African Airways, Egypt Air and others flying scheduled or on demand services to European airports.
An aviation conference convened in Moscow earlier in the week saw Russia introduce a document denouncing the EUs demands and the United States and Chinese delegations were joined in co-signing the declarations by coutries like India and Brazil, Mexico and Saudi Arabia amongst others. This sets the stage to make a formal, widely supported complaint to ICAO as well as opens the doors to ban more national or designated airlines from paying the fees the EU demands, likely to force a head on confrontation between the EU and a growing number of key countries from around the world. China had already prohibited their airlines from paying up and it remains to be seen what the EU authorities will actually do to enforce payment. Should they opt, as they could, to for instance impound an aircraft in lieu of payment or deny an airline in default landing rights, it might trigger an instant retaliation vis a vis the loss of traffic rights into China for European airlines. The EU airlines are keenly eyeing the situation and hoping to be spared becoming a political punching bag by EU bureaucrats who ignored and dismissed stakeholder input about the ETS and implemented it anyway. Countries opposed to the EUs scheme could also use a range of other regulatory and political measures to bring the EU back to the negotiating table after first suspending the scheme until a global solution has been reached.
African airlines in the meantime are lobbying that their own governments are taking a stand and formally denounce the EUs ETS too and AFRAA, the association of African airlines based in Nairobi, has left no doubt in the recent past where they stand, when the organization demanded continental solidarity and action, best expressed through an African Union resolution to which member states can they specifically sign on.
The African carriers now flying to Europe have however all been forced to comply with EU demands and according to a source in Nairobi see the present global trend as a saviour: We on our own are too weak, too insignificant in terms of traffic to Europe, but if China, India, Russia and the US put their foot down and prohibit their own airlines from paying, they can force a new round of negotiations and make the EU suspend the scheme. The current rise of cost of aviation fuel is already eating into the narrow profit margins of African airline and the Eurozone crisis is impacting on demand for air travel. The EU never really showed cause of what the extra levies are used for and therefore purely a cost factor for us and a source of general income for the EU authorities. We hope our governments finally stand up for us now. Here in East Africa the EU is pushing for us to sign trade agreements and we can just stop talking to them until they in turn show some common sense and do away with their ETS said a regular aviation contributor from Kenya.
Watch this space as the rest of the world stands up to the EU and how this will play out in coming days and weeks and in particular see how Africa reacts, or else does not.