While the European Union has been devoting most of its time of late to patching up the finances of member states, it is still attempting to be the spearhead of the fight against global warming.
Its attempts to cajole nations outside of the European Union to comply with European standards, are now encountering pushback and even hesitancy within the European Union.
The EU's attempt to impose a carbon tax on airlines flying to and taking off from Europe, while calculating their entire flight route into the tax, has created a coalition of 30 countries - including the unlikely bedfellows, Russia, the US and China. The countries met in Moscow this week and threatened retaliatory measures against the EU if it seeks to impose the tax after the year of grace.
In addition to noncompliance, Russia threatens to deny European airlines additional flights over Siberia. Other measures suggested were imposing retaliatory taxes on European airlines and suspending talks on new routes with European carriers and perhaps even reopening the Open Skies agreements with European countries. That could result in the cancellation of landing rights for European airlines.
Additionally, having failed with the European Court, the aggrieved states could sue the European Union in friendlier courts, with a better chance of winning.
Environmentalists in the United States support the EU's measures. The Obama administration has courted the environmentalists and regards them as a core component of the Obama coalition, putiting Obama on tricky ground. The administration has justified its opposition to the EU by claiming that the tax was a violation of existing treaties and could prevent a more comprehensive agreement reached under the UN's aegis.
In a related development, the European Commission did not vote against the proposal which was defeated by 128 votes against 89 with 128 abstentions (to carry, the motion needed a majority of the total votes). Poland and Spain voted against it and France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, whose oil producers have a stake in the tar sands facilities, abstained.
Now the environmentalists will try to get the same decision approved by the EU Council, the forum gathering the elected leaders of the EU member states. Canada has warned that if the measure is passed, it would take retaliatory measures that could mushroom into a full trade war. Countries, such as Poland, engaged in similar process, have an interest in defeating the measure.