The European Union was urged by global airlines to defuse an international emissions row as a group of nations led by China, the United States and India kept up their opposition to EU plans to force carriers to join a carbon trading scheme.
EU aims at cutting pollution by levying a fee based on the amount of carbon emissions calculated for whole flights, not just the portion over Europe, and such measure is regarded as an interference with other nations’ airspace.
According to the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), all parties shared the view that a global agreement was needed to head off the threat of a trade war over the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS).
“Europe seems more committed to implementing its ETS unilaterally than to sincerely negotiating multilateral agreement,”said Tony Tyler, IATA director general.
“Sustainability should unite the world with common purpose, not divide it with affronts to sovereignty that risk a trade war, a war that nobody wants and from which no winner can emerge.”
China and India have ordered airlines not to cooperate with the scheme, raising the prospect of retaliation by the EU.
The Union says its plans are necessary as a way to meet international targets to reduce pollution, and that it was forced to act alone as a result of there having been little progress made towards reaching a global deal.
Recently the UE adopted a law requiring commercial airlines to buy carbon permits for every ton of CO2 they emit flying in and out of the bloc’s airports, including US flights.
The airline industry fears being caught up in a trade war which would further dent profits that IATA says could be erased by a worsening of the European debt crisis.