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Can the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) deliver a global emissions trading system (ETS) ?

Jan 11 2013 - by Dr. Armand de Mestral, McGill University

Of all the members of the international community the members of the EU have been the first to take up the challenge of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For some years the EU scheme excluded civil aviation - said to be responsible for 3% of all emissions, but in 2008 the EU acted to extend the scheme to civil aviation; after waited a decade for ICAO to adopt a global ETS scheme, the EU proceeded unilaterally on January 1, 2012 to impose a scheme applicable to all civil aviation in and out of EU territory.

Even before the scheme entered into force, cries of indignation were heard around the world. Opposition reached a crescendo with the adoption of a 27 state declaration in early 2012, strong statements of opposition from India and China in the same year and the adoption of legislation in December by the US Congress prohibiting participation by US airlines. In the face of all this opposition Commissioner Hildegard announced in December 2012 that the EU was "stopping the clock" temporarily in oder to give ICAO a chance to develop an international scheme.

The controversial ball is now in ICAO's court. ICAO has announced the formation of a "high level working group" to review possible approaches to the planning of a global ETS scheme. Several approaches are reported to be under review: 1) a Global Mandatory Offsetting Scheme, 2) a Global Mandatory Offsetting Scheme with a Revenue Generating Mechanism, 3) a Cap-and-Trade System, and 4) Baseline and Credit Systems.

The first practical deadline will be the convening in late September 2013 of the triennial ICAO Assembly of its full membership of 192 states.
Seldom has the EU's position as an international actor been put to a more severe test as the EU purports to be fulfilling its mission to be a good environmental citizen of the world by respecting the Kyoto Protocol. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the EU, as a non-state actor, cannot be a member of ICAO, even though it has become the principal regulator of civil aviation in Europe and, as such, the second most important regulator of civil aviation in the world.

The next months will be a crucial test both for ICAO and for the environmental diplomacy of the EU.

Dr. Armand de Mestral is Emeritus Professor and Jean Monnet Professor of Law at McGill University in Montreal. For his more in-depth analysis please contact him via email.
Dr. de Mestral is part of a cross-Canada network of experts working on European policy issues, within the Economic Cooperation and Competition research group of the Canada-EU Transatlantic Dialogue.

Global Networks challenged by new debates about the Data Protection in the EU

December 19th, 2012 - Global online networks will soon be challenged with new rules for the processing of personal data. The EU is leading the discussion with its new initiative: "European Data Protection Regulation". What does this mean for the big networks such as Facebook, Google etc? And what are the results for Canada and the USA? Our expert Dr. Colin Bennett is available for comments.

Once again the European Union (EU) is leading an elaborated discussion on economic and global dimensions of the existing data protection initiatives and the potentials for the online single market. Last month at the third annual European Data Protection & Privacy Conference in Brussels, the Vice-President of the European Commission delivered a speech and explained why there is a need for a profound change to give individuals more control over information related to them and on how to protect citizens' data rights due to technological and global changes and the opportunity to boost (online) business at the same time.

Privacy has risen in importance as an economic and political issue.The need for directions on how data can safely be collected, accessed and used was already established 18 years ago, when the EU adopted a directive on data protection for its Member States to regulate the processing of personal data within its boarders.
Early this year, the EU Commission made a new proposal and drafted the "European Data Protection Regulation" in order to strengthen consumer protection/ privacy rights and to lead Europe's digital economy.

Canada and USA have been watching these discussions closely in the meantime. The results of these debates will establish the rules for the processing of personal data on global networks for many years to come.

Dr. Colin Bennett is an expert in the field of data protection and has written extensively about this topic. His latest article "The Geo-Politics of Personal Data" was published in Harvard International Review. Dr. Bennett joined the Europe Canada network just recently and is available for media requests this week.

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