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Monday, November 12, 2012

EU Exempts Foreign Airlines from Emissions Trading Scheme

The European Union (EU) is suspending its policy of charging foreign airlines for carbon emissions on flights to and from Europe until September of next year to allow for an international agreement on reducing pollution.

EU Commissioner Connie Hedegaard announced the decision Monday, acknowledging the opposition expressed to the scheme from non-European countries in recent months.

“I have just recommended in a telephone conference with the 27 member states that the EU stops the clock when it comes to the enforcement of the inclusion of aviation in the ETS to and from non-EU countries until after the ICAO general assembly next autumn,” said Hedegaard.

The announcement comes following the recent ICAO council meeting where it was determined that the ICAO would establish an international requirement for reducing aviation emissions.

The House is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the Senate version of a bill that would exempt U.S. airlines from paying the fees imposed on aircraft emissions by EU officials.

U.S. airlines, represented by industry trade group Airlines for America (A4A) support the proposed legislation despite the new announcement from the EU.

"We are cautiously optimistic about today's actions. As we have said consistently we believe a global sectoral approach though ICAO is the best way to address aviation emissions, and at the same time, we expect Congress to move forward on legislation opposing the EU ETS," said Victoria Day, a spokesperson for A4A.

Other countries such as China and Russia also expressed opposition to the EU policy recently. Hedegaard said that if the ICAO fails to provide an international standard to reduce emissions, the EU will re-enact its original policy.

“But let me be very clear, if this exercise does not deliver – and I hope it does, then needless to say we are back to where we are today with the EU ETS. Automatically,” the EU Commissioner added.

EU airlines will still be required to pay for their carbon emissions under the original emissions trading scheme, Hedegaard said.  

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