Taking a tough stance against the European Union (EU)'s emission norms for airlines, the environment ministry has indicated that it would approach the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to resolve the issue.
Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan has already written a letter to the EU Commissioner for Climate Change demanding a reversal of the carbon tax.
Under the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), the EU has threatened to fine Air India and Jet Airways (India) for not sharing their emission data. The two Indian airlines were staring at a fine of ^30,000 (Rs 22.60 lakh on Sunday) after the ETS.
ETS, which came into effect in 2012, requires airlines to report emission data on an annual basis for flights within and to/from Europe and purchase credits in case the emission exceeds capped limits.
"We are taking up the issue first with the UNFCC, followed by ICAO rather than the other way round," said V Rajagopalan, secretary in the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF).
Asked whether the ministry was in favour of domestic aviation emission norms for airlines, Rajagopalan said, "There are a lot of discussions going on. It's too early to say anything." Natarajan had even termed the EU step as a deal-breaker as far as global efforts for climate changes were concerned. However, experts are not in favour of any domestic actions.
"For a country like India, airlines' emission is negligible. Our focus should be more on implementing a national action plan on climate change," said R K Pachauri, director general of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).
The aviation ministry has also been up in arms against the move, stating the EU was overstepping its jurisdiction. An official said India and other countries were against the unilateral measures by the EU.
"Each month, we receive letters and reminders from the EU seeking emission data. The letter states the airline may have to pay a fine for non-compliance. We forward the letters to the ministry. We do not reply to EU letters," an Air India executive said. When contacted, a Jet Airways spokesperson said: "Aviation greenhouse emissions under EU ETS are being handled as per the directions of ministry of civil aviation."