U.S. may soften to EU plane CO2 curbs: lawmaker
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The next United States administration is likely to be more sympathetic to European Union plans to cap carbon dioxide emissions from airlines, an EU lawmaker said on Wednesday.
Under proposals being drawn up in Brussels to fight climate change, airlines using EU airports would be included in the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) from 2012, with a cap on their emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
But the United States and many other countries are deeply opposed to the plan by Brussels, arguing it would illegally roll out EU jurisdiction beyond European territory.
Peter Liese, an EU lawmaker guiding the legislation through the European Parliament, said that after speaking to advisers of the three U.S. presidential hopefuls, he felt the threat of U.S. legal action against the EU had diminished.
"All three camps -- John McCain, Hilary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama -- confirmed that any legal action by the Bush administration would not be supported by the new president," he told reporters.
Liese said that with the U.S. looking to curb CO2 emissions growth and Australia having signed up to the Kyoto protocol, emissions trading systems might one day be linked.
"Until a few months ago, it was very unrealistic that other major players would link to our scheme, but times have changed," he said.
The European Parliament will vote at the end of this month on legislation to bring aviation into the ETS scheme.
Liese said he wanted to toughen up an agreement by EU member states that would see airlines included from 2012 by bringing the start date forward by a year and forcing them to pay for 25 percent of their permits to emit CO2, up from 10 percent.
(Reporting by Pete Harrison)