The EU and foreign airlines are coming to a head and one of the players, likely airlines, will end up bending to the others' will.
Threats of a trade war from the U.S. and China have caused the EU to scale back its proposal and soften the requirements on European airlines as well as international carriers. Even if an interim solution is reached, the rules of the game will likely change before a worldwide standard is enforced in 2020.
It's not often that the U.S. and China team up to quash a European environmental initiative. But the U.S. doesn't like being told what do to, and China needs to have the same period of massively irresponsible industrial and commercial growth that Europe experienced in the last two centuries.
The international aviation community has been unable to agree on emissions rules for years, suggesting that any initiative that does get passed will not have nearly the impact needed to make a difference.
Allowing such a large number of countries to essentially ignore the first round of carbon-cutting measures sets up a dangerous precedent for when an industry-wide standard is introduced in 2020. Critics may be addressing a critical policy weakness or just trying to buy time.
This decision is a tough blow for climate change but an even tougher one for the EU, which has been struggling to hold on to its diplomatic power on the international scene following hit after hit to its economic stability. It lost a bit more of that power today.
Despite the optimism, getting a global agreement on carbon emissions for the aviation industry is a stubbornly tough endeavor, and it will take years to get the signatures.
It didn't matter that the European Union had put the fees on hold. Congress acted to further remind the EU how un-welcome their carbon emissions penalties are in the U.S.
The rule will put a temporary end to the voices of protest coming out of Washington, D.C. and Beijing, but European carriers will begin their own complaints that their competitive edge weakened by fees foreign rivals don't have to pay.