Cap-and-Trade Plan Means You’ll Pay More to Fly

Photo: CBC News

The European Union’s highest court Wednesday upheld the EU’s right to impose its cap-and-trade scheme on international airlines using European airports, rejecting a suit brought by North American airlines.

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg dismissed arguments that the program infringes on national sovereignty or violates international aviation treaties.
The carbon trading program, due to go into effect Jan. 1, is one of the widest reaching measures adopted by any country or regional bloc to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

The EU has calculated that the costs to passengers will be minimal, ranging up to euro12 ($15.70) on a one-way trans-Atlantic flight. For many flights it will be a euro or two.
The suit was brought by U.S. and Canadian airlines acting through the industry trade organization Airlines for America, but the protest was supported by China, India and other countries with international carriers.

Under the scheme, each airline will be allocated pollution permits slightly less than its average historical emissions record. If it exceeds its limit it can buy permits from other airlines that have emitted less than allowed and have leftover permits to sell. Emissions are counted for the entire route of an aircraft that touches down in Europe.
The ruling by the 13 judges said the EU was within its rights to impose the scheme on commercial airlines that choose to operate at European airports, and thus fall under EU jurisdiction.

It also rejected the appeal that the scheme violates the Open Skies treaty prohibition against unilateral taxation or discriminatory treatment. It said the cost to the airline is subject to an open market, from which it also may profit, and is not a tax. It also treats all flights equally, as long as they land or take off from one of the 27 member countries of the union.

The directive, enacted in EU law in 2008, aroused an international protest beyond those airlines that joined the suit.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure two months ago directing the transportation secretary to prohibit U.S. carriers from participating in the program if it is unilaterally imposed.

On Friday the secretary, Ray LaHood, and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton wrote to the EU commission reiterating Washington’s objections on “legal and policy grounds,” and said the U.S. would respond with “appropriate action.” It did not elaborate.
China and India complained about the issue at the recent 194-nation U.N. climate conference in South Africa. The New Delhi government reportedly told Indian carriers to defy the directive by refusing to submit carbon emissions data to the EU.

But the EU said all major international carriers, including those behind the suite, were among some 900 airlines that have applied for free permits, and that it anticipated full compliance with the law.

[ Fox News ]

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Security scanners go big, aim for whole planes

Anti-terrorism and security scanning is aiming for bigger targets including whole aircraft as part of an effort to cut costs and simplify monitoring processes.

By commissioning machines that detect organic threats, drugs, explosives and other suspect materials, governments are hoping they’ll build efficiencies into systems that are claiming escalating costs.
Critics of the scanning systems say the devices, getting larger by the day, invade privacy and those using X-rays raise questions about public health and safety.

In July the U.S. Transportation Security Administration announced it was updating scanner software to end the use of images that show a passenger’s naked body by the end of 2011, but the software is still in wide use elsewhere in the Americas.

Competing security companies have pledged to pursue more research to remove intrusive scanning features and also to develop more diversified non-X-ray scanners for commercial use

Critics say the radiation emitted by some full-body scanners is as much as 20 times stronger than officially reported and is not safe to use on large numbers of persons because of an increased risk of cancer.

Critics also reject manufacturers’ claims the radiation is dispersed throughout the body when scanning is under way, pointing out those being scanned are most exposed to X-rays on their skin and tissue immediately underneath.

Despite the controversy, body and merchandise scanning has grown into a multibillion dollar business in response to terrorism threats. In Latin America, scanners are being adopted in large numbers by border security agencies under international pressure to stem the flow of drugs to North America and elsewhere.

American Science and Engineering, Inc., a leading worldwide supplier of X-ray detection devices, said the Dutch Customs Administration in the Netherlands will deploy its Z Backscatter Van mobile X-ray screening system to inspect commercial and cargo airplanes.

Anthony Fabiano, AS&E’s president and chief executive officer, said the Dutch authorities had embarked on a “trend setting” use of the company’s non-intrusive detection system to scan whole aircraft;

“Dutch Customs is leveraging the ZBV system’s flexible, mobile design to scan airplanes of all sizes for drugs and contraband,” Fabiano said.

Variations on the scanning device were deployed in Central and South America to monitor the region’s growing international trucking traffic.

The ZBV system is a screening system built into a commercially available delivery van. The ZBV system can be deployed easily in response to security threats, and its high throughput capability facilitates rapid inspections, says the company.

The ZBV system has been well-received worldwide with more than 560 systems sold to 115 customers in 53 countries.

The ZBV system reveals organic threats and contraband that transmission X-rays often miss, such as explosives and drugs, and provides photo-like imaging for rapid analysis. The system can drive by and scan a variety of aircraft sizes and configurations and can reveal organic contraband hidden in the structure of an aircraft.

[ United Press International, Inc. ]

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India’s security charade

In Correspondents Report, the ABC’s [Australian Broadcasting Corporate] overseas reporters give their interpretation and analysis of the week’s major events.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: This month’s bombing of Delhi’s high court is the seventh terrorist attack in India in the past 18 months.

The frequency of these incidents suggests India’s government and security forces are incapable of preventing regular attacks on their own soil.

Those that can afford it resort to employing their own guards to protect their homes and businesses from crime and acts of terror.

But as our India correspondent Richard Lindell reports, increased security on the street is not necessarily making people safer.

RICHARD LINDELL: The last time I travelled to India was just after the terrorist attack on Mumbai in 2008.

So when I arrived here for my posting almost a year ago, one of the things that struck me was the increased security and police presence.

India’s government and private sector had clearly stepped up its security effort. You can find evidence of this everywhere: at hotels, at malls, at government buildings, even at home.

Yet for me, security is a source of frustration and at times, comic relief. And it’s not that I don’t think it’s necessary, it’s just that at the end of the process, I don’t feel any safer.

When I go to the mall, I pass through a number of checkpoints.

First the car – open the boot, open the glove box, the routine is always the same and no guard ever bothers to check the contents.

After parking the car, I walk through a metal detector that may or may not be switched on.

I then submit to a pat down. It’s also a half hearted affair and what’s in my pockets remain a mystery to my friendly guard.

Some days, I’ll play my role in this charade several times over as I move from office to office or mall to mall.

We also have a guard at home. But when we come home late at night, it takes a number of loud blows on the horn to wake the guard from his slumber as he’s sprawled across two chairs in the driveway.

If I’m not driving, I easily slip past him after unbolting the metal latch and closing the squeaky gate behind me with a thud.

It always brings a smile to my face. Anyway, I like my guard, and who can blame him for sleeping on the job given his appalling pay and conditions.

The police aren’t much better. They’re ill-equipped, poorly trained and even more poorly paid.

During high alerts, I’ll often see half a dozen standing around in a group having a chat, rather than one or two.

Terror expert Ajai Sahni is scathing of what passes for security in India

AJAI SAHNI: In the absence of anything else being done it has a minor deterrent value on amateurs. As far as trained, committed terrorists are concerned all the static positioning of force is a complete waste of time and money. This is a fraud intended to create a false sense of security in the larger population.

RICHARD LINDELL: Professor Dipankar Gupta is a sociologist and former member of the National Security Advisory Board.

He says what’s needed is an independent and well trained police force, but says such reforms work against the political and personal interests of those in power.

DIPANKAR GUPTA: There are two elements that work side by side. One is we don’t want to lose control over the police and number two is if we have good personnel we have to change the way we do policing and by changing the way we do policing these police officers will become qualified, confident of themselves, have a certain degree of self respect and we’re does that leave us? I mean the politicians or the leaders.

RICHARD LINDELL: India’s government can provide security when it wants to.

Airport security is process driven, regimented and thorough. Major events including the Cricket World Cup and Commonwealth Games were secure and numerous world leaders have been kept safe during state visits over the past year.

So why is day to day security beyond the government?

Professor Gupta again.

DIPANKAR GUPTA: When these incidents happen, and this is a sorry commentary on our society, but when poorer people get killed there isn’t much anguish in the newspapers at least, people aren’t really bothered that much and the poor people too are used to that.

You know, a life is not a life, it depends what kind of life. This is a kind of lackadaisical attitude, “it doesn’t really concern me or concern people like us”. You may have heard the phrase “PLU” in India, “people like us”.

The notion of citizenship, that idea of citizenship is not really deeply ingrained within us, there are people and people, and yes we’re citizens in a manner of speaking and under the law but not quite so in practice and not quite so certainly in terms of our emotional relationship with one another.

RICHARD LINDELL: So why the disconnect?

Maybe it’s because in India everything is magnified. The grinding poverty is so intense, the social issues so immense, it’s overwhelming.

The survival instinct kicks in and those who can afford to block out the harsh realities of daily life.

When I first came to India, I didn’t understand how such extremes of wealth and poverty could live side by side, how the well-off could go about their daily life seemingly without guilt and without care.

But now a year later, it’s me seeking refuge in my nice home, protected by my guard and housekeeper, it’s me shopping and eating in the shiny new malls and it’s me living in a bubble that only money can buy.

But money only buys so much. An air-conditioned car is no protection against the wrenching sight and sound of a child tapping on the window for a few rupees, nor does an air-conditioned home stop the smell of sewerage rising up through the laundry or dirty water running from the taps.

I could go on. The bubble often bursts.

As it should. It shakes us out of our slumber and perhaps it helps us care a little more for those around us, like my guard asleep in the driveway.

This is Richard Lindell in New Delhi for Correspondents Report.

[ Australian Broadcasting Corporation ]

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