EU Tells Clinton It Won’t Abandon Carbon Limits for Airlines

The European Union won’t abandon its curbs on carbon dioxide discharges by international airlines and sees the program as an incentive toward a global solution, the bloc’s executive told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The 27-nation EU is ready to discuss the exemption of incoming flights from the U.S. from its emissions trading system should the world’s largest economy introduce “equivalent measures” to cut pollution by the aviation industry, according to a letter sent by the bloc’s transport and climate commissioners to Clinton.

The European law will also be reviewed and amended when countries worldwide reach an agreement to limit greenhouse gas discharges from airlines, the EU said in the letter seen by Bloomberg News.

The inclusion of airlines in the EU cap-and-trade program as of this year has sparked opposition from countries including the U.S., China and Russia, which said Europe should let the United NationsInternational Civil Aviation Organization decide on greenhouse-gas limits for the industry. Clinton told the EU in a letter last month that the U.S. will be compelled to take appropriate action unless the bloc abandons its plan.

“We see the inclusion of aviation in the EU ETS as an important contribution to, and a catalyst, towards global action, rather than an obstacle,” according to the EU response to Clinton dated Jan. 16. “We believe there’s now a growing recognition of the need to move forwards in ICAO to develop a global solution and we hope that the U.S. shares our view that we must seize this opportunity.”

International Law

The ICAO adopted a non-binding declaration last year calling on the EU to exempt international aircraft operators from its curbs on carbon. The statement was supported by 26 countries, including the U.S., India, Japan and Brazil, which said that the expansion of the EU program was inconsistent with international law.

The organization aims to strike a deal next year creating a global carbon market for the industry, Raymond Benjamin, its secretary general, said in November. The organization plans to present emission-reduction options, including a new market, to ICAO’s 190 members as early as this month seeking agreement by the end of 2012 and ratification by September 2013, he said.

Because the ICAO hasn’t drafted a proposal on a global pollution-curbing program for airlines yet, it’s unlikely to adopt one by its next general meeting in 2013, the German government said in a statement last week.

Respecting Rules

“While remaining of the firm belief that respecting each others’ rules and regulations is indispensable for deepening our cooperation, we reaffirm the strong willingness of the EU and its member states to work collaboratively with the U.S. and all other international partners towards a global solution in ICAO,” the EU said in the letter to Clinton. “We therefore welcome the strong expression in your letter of the United States’ readiness to redouble your efforts in collaboration with the EU and other countries.”

The 27-member EU, which seeks to lead the worldwide fight against climate change, decided in 2008 that international aviation should become a part of the world’s largest cap-and- trade program after airline discharges in Europe doubled over two decades.

International carriers will be given emission permits making up 85 percent of the industry cap in 2012 and will have to buy the remaining 15 percent at auctions.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ewa Krukowska in Brussels at ekrukowska@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

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