Saturday, April 23, 2011

Airports: international gateway to taxes

Countries worldwide are beginning to replace their older policies with more environmentally responsible and sustainable practices. One of these changes in practices is the adoption of a carbon trading system by many European countries. Recently the European Union has moved to make foreign vessels using its ports and airports pay for the emissions that they release while nearby. The EU wishes to extend its Emissions Trading System to most international flights landing and taking off from European airports. The E.U. is attempting to expand such regulations in part in order to alleviate problems it has had with its Emission Trading System. This problem is caused by the fact that neighboring countries are setting formal limits on greenhouse gases far more slowly than European nations have been. This has caused a disparity between companies operating under the E.U. trading system and companies located in other countries which do not have as strict limits or any limits at all. European companies say that this provides them with an unfair burden because they must deal with higher costs due to pollution that those foreign companies do. This has pressured the E.U. to find other ways to make polluters pay for their mess, such as the extension to international flights which account for a large portion of release pollutants. There is also talk of extending such regulations to international shipping which has also been met with criticism by countries which depend on it heavily.

It is important for countries to change their policies so that the problem of pollution may be addressed. The European Union’s Emissions Trading System is certainly a step in the right direction. The Cap and Trade system which they have in place serves to create a goal that companies must meet that may either be achieved by reduction emissions or buying permits and making it more costly for them to pollute. While this system sounds promising to lower carbon emissions, inefficiencies are created when all countries do not have the same emissions standards and those under the E.U. system. This creates a disadvantage to those countries under the system as they must bear the costs of pollution that those countries without emission standards do not have to account for. In recognition of this problem I believe that the E.U. is right to extend its regulations to the airplane and shipping industries which while using its ports and airports release pollutants that E.U. companies must account for. It is not unreasonable for these companies to pay for the pollutants that they release while using E.U. ports and airports.
--Chris Howard
[Question: should they also pay for the pollutants they release while flying elsewhere? That's part of the question! See the article for details. James]

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