The US Senate has set the scene for a post Presidential election fight with the EU over the emissions trading scheme it is applying to all foreign as well as member state flag carriers.

In the big picture, it reinforces the opposition from China to the same scheme being applied to its flights to EU cities, and makes for a case of rare agreement over principle in a trade dispute between Beijing and Washington DC.

The more excitable media has also portrayed this dispute as one in which the US and China could deny EU carriers access to their skies (well, the same sky actually) in retaliation for any similarly overt action again their carriers in Europe.

Which may be a bit silly, except that silly things happen when trade conflicts arise and where China tends to get leveraged into populist political agendas which are big on slogans and small on analysis.

The Bloomberg report also drills into the political and trade policy realities of the story. It comes with complexities that do not fit into a one minute TV news story anymore than they do in this post.

Perhaps the most relevant paragraph in the report is this one:

“The Senate bill calls for the U.S. to go for a global deal to address aviation emissions,” EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in an e-mailed statement in Brussels today. “I agree. This is what the EU has always been fighting for. But it’s not enough to say you want it, you have to work hard to get it done.”

This story is very similar to most reports that arise from efforts to reduce or ultimately eliminate the large scale release of fossil sourced carbon. That is, the science is totally subordinated into the clash of political wills and agendas that have arisen over industrially forced climate change, and those well intentioned policy settings various states may make are then botched in their drafting or application.

But suggestions of aircraft being impounded, or similar drastic actions being taken ignore the opportunities that would arise from them.

Air blockades will never work if there are non-US or non-EU or non-China carriers ready and willing to fly anyone between cities in the US, Europe and China via, at a guess, cities in the Middle East, Latin America, Bermuda or the Bahamas,  the Mid South Pacific, Australia, or Asia, and more than cheerfully pay whatever the EU asks if the reward is full flights and full fares for as long as such a show down persists.

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