Cablegate and climate change: UK frustrations with US policy, while Americans hoped to shape UK policy to protect their aviation industry

Cablegate continues to demonstrate the US was (and remains) out of step with the rest of the world. This time a cable originating from the London Embassy (07LONDON4472) from 2007.  

Firstly, it notes the UK was “dissapointed” in the American failure to sign Kyoto.

The cable also makes it clear the Bush Administration was keen to protect the US aviation industry from proposals by the UK to reduce emissions: 

UK-U.S. Climate Change Differences
13. (SBU) The predominant environmental concern in the UK is climate change. The UK was disappointed the U.S. did not sign the Kyoto Protocol. Local air quality is a concern, but when faced with a trade-off, UK policy will tend to favor reducing carbon output (as evidenced by the fact that around 50% of vehicles in the UK run on diesel and would not meet most U.S. air quality standards). There is strong support for action on climate change legislation across the political spectrum and among the general public in the UK. The UK participates in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), a cap-and-trade program to help Europe meet its Kyoto Protocol commitments on carbon emissions. The UK is also a key supporter of a European Commission proposal to include aviation in the second phase of ETS, which is working its way through the legislative process. The U.S. and other governments have registered concerns over the legality of this unilateral environmental regulation on aviation emissions, which should be resolved within the International Civil Aviation Organization. Secretary Kelly’s office has indicated that she will raise this issue with you.

Interesting reading indeed…

The US focussed on “mitigating” the climate policies of other nations, not climate change

Clearly the US was concerned about the UK acting “unilaterally” but sought to protect their industry and manage their conflict over the issue:   

14. (SBU) Transportation is one of the largest and fastest growing contributors to climate change in the UK, and aviation is seen as unique in that it is not subject to fuel tax and duty (with the sole exception of non-commercial general aviation). In an attempt to be seen to address the growth in aviation emissions and make aviation pay its environmental costs, Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT) recently mooted a proposal to abandon air passenger duty (APD) in favor of a charge on every flight leaving the UK. The proposal aims to include previously excluded categories such as cargo, transfer passengers, smaller aircraft and non-commercial aviation. The proposal still lacks detail, but the intent is to provide incentives to reduce emissions and more closely align the tax with environmental impact. HMT has held several meetings with UK, U.S. and other passenger and cargo carriers. In addition, the Embassy met recently with HMT and DfT officials to seek more information, including HMG’s views on the compliance of the proposal with international obligations such as air services agreements and the Chicago Convention. It is clear that UK analysis is not yet well developed, but HMG indicated a willingness to exchange further information and hold discussions with a view to avoiding another conflict over aviation and emissions. 

Here we see the US administration working hard to protect the interest of American industries.


One thought on “Cablegate and climate change: UK frustrations with US policy, while Americans hoped to shape UK policy to protect their aviation industry

  1. John R T says:

    Surprise! ¨US administration working hard to protect the interest of American industries.¨ Who would have thought?

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