EU Climate Chief Says Talks on Airline Emissions Will Test Obama

European Union Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said an early test of President Barack Obama’s commitment to combating climate change is how he negotiates an international agreement on aviation emissions.

“I really believe that when it’s about finding a global way forward for aviation now, we -- the U.S. and the European Union -- should be on the same side, working for the obvious, namely that if I take a long-haul plane, be it from Washington to Europe or from Europe to Beijing, it is only common sense that I pay for my pollution,” Hedegaard told reporters today at a briefing in Washington.

Obama’s pledges to fight climate change in his second inaugural address and the State of the Union speech were “sweet music to a European’s ears,” the Danish politician said. Now the EU wants the administration to say specifically how it would seek to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from airplanes and other sources, she said.

She said an administration rejection of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast would send a “strong signal to the world” about how serious the administration is in addressing climate risks. Environmental groups oppose the pipeline because they say it would encourage development of the tar sands, the mining of which releases more greenhouse gases than most conventional drilling.

Hedegaard is in Washington for meetings with Obama administration officials.

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