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Global CO2 Aviation Plan Could Replace EU Curbs, Hedegaard Says

The European Union can replace its carbon curbs on aviation with a global measure to cut pollution from the industry as long as the broader program is as ambitious as the EU plan, the bloc’s climate chief said.

The 27-nation EU won’t abandon the expansion of its emissions trading system into international aviation in the face of opposition from nations outside the region, Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in an interview today. The first expansion of the EU emissions cap-and-trade program abroad has drawn fire from countries including the U.S., Russia and Japan, which said the measure was inconsistent with international law.

“It’s clear that the moment we have a global regime entering into force, something that we all agree to, then the EU legislation will not be relevant,” Hedegaard said by telephone from Copenhagen. “That can be different models for sure, but the bottom line from our perspective must be that it is something that is at least as good for climate and environment as what we have in Europe right now.”

Her comments come as countries challenging the system plan to meet in Moscow on Feb. 21-22 to coordinate action and discuss a “basket of countermeasures” against the EU emissions trading system, often referred to as the ETS, according to an agenda of the gathering obtained by Bloomberg News.

Their talks will follow a non-binding resolution adopted by the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization last year at the urging of 26 nations, including India, China, Japan and Russia, calling for the exemption of non-EU airlines from the ETS.

Global Deal

“So far it very much seems this group of countries can agree on one thing: what should not be done,” Hedegaard said. “But it would be much more interesting to see what new move they are willing to take that would make it likely this time to get a global deal through ICAO.”

The UN aviation body intends to strike a deal this year creating a global carbon market for the industry, Raymond Benjamin, ICAO’s secretary general, said in November.

The EU, which aims to lead the global fight against climate change, won’t insist on any particular instrument and would welcome “some kind of a market-based system that really reduces emissions and creates the right incentives for the whole sector to become more efficient,” according to Hedegaard.

“We don’t have a one-way recipe to say this is how it must be done,” she said, adding that the bloc hopes to see ICAO taking action. “Those who believe that as long as we just talk about a global regime then the EU law could disappear -- that’s not going to happen.”

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