US demands exemption from EU plans on aviation emissions
23.06.11 @ 09:21
BRUSSELS - Washington has officially demanded that US airlines be left out of European plans to charge airlines for carbon permits.
Opposition prior to a US-EU aviation meeting in Oslo on Wednesday (22 June) has largely come from the industry itself, but US officials have now registered their unhappiness.
"We clearly stated our strong objections to the EU plans on both legal and policy grounds," a US administration official told a telephone news conference after the talks.
Brussels plans to include the aviation sector in its emissions trading system (ETS) from the beginning of 2012, forcing all airlines flying both into and out of the 27-member bloc to buy pollution permits.
Until now Europe's landmark ETS scheme has covered energy companies and heavy industry, with EU officials warning that an exemption for foreign aircraft could render the aviation move unworkable.
They also stressed that there was no turning back the clock on an EU law that was approved two years ago by EU governments and the European Parliament.
"The [European] Commission is ready to consult at any time, but there should be no illusion - the EU does not intend to withdraw or amend the ... directive. It is established EU law," an EU official at the meeting told Reuters.
A provision in the EU legislation allows incoming airlines to be exempted from buying the carbon permits however, if they fly from countries with "equivalent measures".
This aspect was explored further by the two sides during the talks, with Brussels currently examining a Chinese plan for aviation emissions.
A group of US airline companies have meanwhile taken the EU plans to court, with a hearing scheduled in the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg for the 5 July. A preliminary verdict could come before the end of the year.
Chinese authorities and airlines have also voiced their opposition to the plans.