by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Nov 28, 2011
The United States remains "concerned" about the European Union's plans to charge all airlines for carbon emissions when flying in and out of Europe, a US official said Monday.
Europe is facing a growing chorus of opposition, with the International Civil Aviation Organization joining US and Asian airlines in urging the EU to exclude foreign carriers from rules coming into force on January 1.
During a US-EU summit in Washington on Monday, President Barack Obama "made clear... that we're quite concerned about this regulatory regime," US Ambassador to the European Union William Kennard told reporters.
Obama met with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Kennard said the United States would have preferred a "multilateral" approach, earning immediate rebuke from his EU counterpart in Washington, Joao Vale de Almeida.
"We are not opposed to a multilateral solution," said Almeida. "But we have been waiting for too long for that, we have been waiting for 15 years for the International Civil Aviation Organization to come to any sort of deal on that."
The EU is already fighting in Europe's top court to defend its decision to include airlines in its Emissions Trading System (ETS), which furious US carriers say violates international climate change and aviation pacts.
The carbon trading scheme is used to charge industries such as oil refineries, power stations and steel works for CO2 emissions as part of Europe's efforts against climate change.
In 2012, airlines will have to pay for 15 percent of the polluting rights accorded to them, the figure rising to 18 percent in the period 2013-2020.
The US House of Representatives weighed in last month, passing a bill directing the US government to forbid US carriers to take part "in any emissions trading scheme unilaterally established by the European Union."
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