OFFICIALS from the European Union say global accords to reduce maritime carbon emissions are unachievable and instead aim to regulate world shipping fleets through the Bahama initiative to be passed by the UN's International Maritime Organisation and enforced by member states.
But the carbon trading idea, seems to be off the table, partly because of a hostile reaction led by Chinese airlines who were furious at having to pay European taxes because of carbon emissions from their aircraft. Many non-EU carriers joined the outcry.
"It is unrealistic to expect a MBM [market based measure] deal this year, next year, the year after, and maybe the year after that also," one senior EU source told EurActiv, reported London's Guardian newspaper.
Throughout 2011, the EU has sought to bring about an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). "The aviation [dispute] shows us that this is probably not the right way to go because if it fails, what have we won beside bad blood and bitterness?" one EU official told EurActiv.
The Bahamas initiative, which was originally discussed in March, was "a positive alternative" to unilateralism, according to EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas. Although weaker than a global treaty, such an accord could be implemented under the UN's International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and enforced by nation states.
"We are looking for solutions that involve partners," he said. "I don't think that a unilateral solution can be a good answer because it can create a lot of political resistance."
Because of this, "the US would not have to go through the Congress, and China would not lose face because they were entering into a CO2 deal," the EU official said of the current impasse.
EU finance ministers last month called on the IMO and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to "develop without delay" a global framework for a carbon pricing system. IMO conference delegates are expected to call for the adoption of an Energy Efficient Design Index.