The EU Aviation Scheme & International Law

Date and Time

August 5, 2011

11:30 am to 1:00 pm


The Centre for Policy Research is delighted to invite you to a discussion on The EU Aviation Scheme & International Law on Friday, the 5th of August at 5pm. The topic will be introduced by Lavanya Rajamani, Professor, chaired by Navroz Dubash, Senior Fellow, both at CPR, and enriched by contributions from members of the Group of International Lawyers in Delhi (GUILD). This discussion is a part of CPR’s Climate Initiative as well as its International Law Seminar Series. As the multilateral climate negotiations flounder, fail or are wrenched back from the precipice in ever more creative ways every year, unilateral climate actions by impatient states have begun to gain ground. The most controversial of these is the extension of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to aviation, and its application to all airlines that land in or depart from EU airports. India has characterized the EU scheme as a ‘unilateral trade measure’ and threatened a WTO challenge. The scheme has drawn criticism from Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Korea and the US. A group of American airlines has challenged this scheme in the High Court of England and Wales, which has since referred the case for a preliminary ruling to the European Court of Justice. A ruling is expected earlynext year. Underlying the thicket of political considerations is a set of intriguing legal issues. These include:

  • To what extent does this scheme conform to customary international law? Can the EU regulate non-EU airlines in relation to GHG emissions that occur in other states’ territories/airspace and over the high seas? Is such an exercise of extra-territorial jurisdiction permissible in the service of a common environmental goal?
  • To what extent is this scheme contrary to or supported by existing multilateral agreements on climate change and civil aviation (the FCCC, the Kyoto Protocol, Chicago Convention, etc)?
  • To what extent can this scheme be characterized as a ‘unilateral trade measure’ and challenged before the WTO as the Indian government is threatening to do?

This session will seek to foster a balanced and informed conversation on these pressing and controversial international legal issues. Please come ready to chime in. Further information about CPR’s Climate Initiative, and full profile information on Lavanya Rajamani and Navroz Dubash is available at: