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'What has enabled Russia to rise among the great powers of the world…has been the conquest of Siberia'
W.Bruce Lincoln

Trade war erupts over Siberian air space, with four countries united in protest against EU move

By Siberian Times Business Reporter
19 March 2012

Russia, America, China and India have all raised voices of concern over hefty new levies for greenhouse gas emissions. 

Curbs on European airlines overflying Siberia could be imposed in a bitter dispute over a new European Union bid to force the world's air carriers to pay hefty new levies for greenhouse gas emissions. 

The row has been billed as the world's first carbon trade war.

Imposing curbs or new fees on European airlines overflying Siberia are seen as one possible weapon to put pressure on Brussels over greenhouse levies which are seen by opponents as excessive and likely to harm airline business, lead to a deterioration in services, and destroy jobs.



Siberian air space is seen as crucial to major European carriers on routes to the far east. Picture: Planet Yakutia



‘Every state will chose the most effective and reliable measures that will help to cancel or postpone the implementation of the EU ETS (Emissions Trading System)’, warned Russia's deputy transport minister Valery Okulov, formerly chief executive of Aeroflot.

Russia organised a two-day February meeting of 26 countries opposed to the EU measures.

Fees for overflying Siberia have been slashed in the past decade as part of moves to integrate Russia into the World Trade Organisation. 

Another measure could be for opposing countries to ban their airlines from paying EU levies.

The United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is seen as the forum where the dispute is likely to be thrashed out.

The EU is refusing to budge despite the hostile reaction to its green agenda.

‘The EU will defend its legislation. We are completely sure and we have been backed by the European Court of Justice that our legislation does not break any international law, including ICAO principles’, said Isaac Valero-Ladron, EU spokesman for climate action.

The ETS dates from 2005 and is seen as a key plank in European efforts combat climate change.


Major European airlines are also demanding a compromise is found between the EU and its opponents.



Eight airlines — including Air France-KLM, Lufthansa and British Airways, concerned over the proposed retaliation — along with plane manufacturer Airbus demanded an end to the escalating conflict and called on Europe's leaders to ‘use their influence’.

‘The situation is becoming intolerable for the European aviation industry’, said their letter.

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