EU Sticks to Disputed Airline Emissions Plan
BRUSSELS - The European Union stuck to its plans to include foreign airlines in its emissions trading system at U.N. meetings this week, despite opposition from the United States.
Airline emissions were top of the agenda of a tri-annual meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations body, in Montreal which ended on Friday.
The European Commission said in a statement there was no clear agreement on how to cut greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation and the EU insisted it had the right to include airlines in its trading system.
"We strongly believe that it would be best if the international community could reach an effective mechanism on tackling aviation emissions," said Luis Fonseca de Almeida, the civil aviation chief in current EU president Portugal.
"We are disappointed by the outcome and believe ICAO has abdicated the leadership role given to it in the Kyoto Protocol. That is a very great failing that should concern us all."
An EU compromise proposal for urgent talks at ICAO to set targets and provide input to the United Nations negotiations on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol was watered down and will only look at "possible aspiration goals," the statement said.
The United States opposes the plan to include foreign airlines in the EU's emissions trading scheme and has pushed ICAO to let individual nations decide the best way to manage greenhouse gas emissions from their airlines.
The EU Commission plans to include flights into and out of the 27-nation bloc from 2012 in its emissions trading scheme.
Environmentalists also say the airline industry must contribute more to reducing the gases blamed for global warming.