16 February 2012 by Pelle Neroth
The scheme is about enterprises paying for the carbon they emit by purchasing permits - as a means to incentivise the introduction of lower carbon emitting modern technology. It's the environment - everyone is for that!
The ETS has been going since 2005, gradually increasing its coverage into more and more industrial and transport sectors in the EU. But the latest move - to extend the ETS to international aviation - has brought the scheme into unprecedented controversy, with the Chinese claiming their airlines would be prejudiced against. The Chinese government has banned its airlines from joining the scheme. As a result, companies that stand to lose from any political spat with China, such as Airbus, have also expressed concern.
The European plane manufacturer's chief executive Tom Enders told Reuters on Monday that:
"I am very worried about the consequences of that. What started out as a solution for the environment has become a source of potential trade conflict and that should be a worry for all of us."
Aircraft makers are worried that China has used trade instruments before: in the 1990s, when France sold military equipment to Taiwan, China cut its Airbus imports in protest. In the latest conflict, China has withheld its signature from $4bn worth of Airbus A380s for Hong Kong Airlines.
Manufacturers are not the only European firms worried about the spat over the ETS charge. The union's airlines are concerned that they will be hit by tit-for-tat charges, or reduced traffic rights to Beijing and Shanghai, according to Reuters.
The Chinese have a problem with the fact that the cost of carbon will be levied over the distance whole flight. They say it would be fairer if the cost were levied only over the distance their airlines cover in European Union territory, and questions the EU's right to legislate over non European territory. Other Asian airlines, governments and lobby groups have also expressed concern.
Siim Kallas, the European transport commissioner, has said the European commission was willing to find a flexible solution but that it would go ahead:
"Europe will implement its system with difficulties, with conflicts, with court cases, whatever.The system will be introduced," he said, speaking at the Singapore Airshow held this week.
The ultimate sanction could be preventing airlines that don't pay the charges from landing at European airports. The European Commission hopes to raise 1.2bn euros this year. Though it sounds a lot when added together, the EU is keen to stress it is the equivalent of only two euros per passenger per long distance flight.
Today Thursday the situation seems to be that Connie Hedegaard, the EU's environment commissioner, has suggested that talks be resolved at UN level, through the UN's aviation agency ICAO. But the Chinese appear to have agreed with Russia, the United States, India and other nations to meet in Moscow next week to construct an approach against the EU demands. That may include reciprocal environmental taxes.
You might say it's a failure of European diplomatic clout, which makes you wonder how the negotiations were handled. Is there perhaps the sense that airlines are the wrong target?
Aviation may be a fast growing area of emissions, but it still only accounts for 3% of the global total - and airlines have been rapidly hit by rising fuel prices. In addition, airlines have long been burdened with growing "Air Passenger Duty" charges - passed on to the customer as every traveller knows - which now comes to scores of pounds per passenger and whose original purpose was environmental.
Sweden's engineers take paternity leave
Can fatherhood boost your career? Certainly the skills learned can help you cope on the job - if Swedish engineers are to believed.
A recent survey by the Swedish engineering association Sveriges Ingenjörer polled 1,200 young engineers of both sexes, aged between 25 and 45, and found a big increase, a big rise in paternity leave taken compared to the last survey in 2005: 80% of male engineers took several months' paternity leave and 29% took more than six months off. Ninety-seven percent of Swedish women engineers take six months or more off. Only one tenth of men believe that that careers and salaries have suffered, a much lower figure than seven years ago. Lots of engineers reported positive consequences for their professional skills: better workflow prioritisation, said some respondents. Better at multitasking after being with a baby for a year, said other male engineers.
The Swedish engineering association's staff continually travel around the country holding seminars, encouraging the men to take time off to enrich their life experience. Maybe there is something here for the British engineering panjandrums, always complaining of the macho attitudes, the sharp edges and the incredibly low female participation in British engineering?
Pelle Neroth -- EU correspondent
Edited: 16 February 2012 at 04:30 PM by Pelle Neroth
Posted By: Pelle Neroth @ 16 February 2012 04:22 PM Transport
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