Europe offers compromise to US on airline emissions taxes
BRUSSELS — Seeking to end years of acrimony, the European Union has made concessions to the United States to try to gain support for global rules on airline emissions.
Under the arrangement, the European Union would pare back its regulations, applying them only to its own airspace. The original plan, which the United States and other countries rejected, would have imposed charges for emissions over an airline’s entire route if the flight began or ended in Europe.
In exchange, Europe is pushing for a global deal on aviation emissions.
The European concessions — proposed quietly over the summer and made public this week — aim to end a trans-Atlantic dispute over a European law to curb emissions on major international routes. In doing so, the European Union is looking to present a united front with the Americans and press the rest of the world to adopt similar or more extensive controls.
“This is a multilateral negotiation where you give and take,” Isaac Valero-Ladron, a spokesman for the European Commission, said in a statement. “We should not miss the bigger picture: a global deal means more emissions covered in the long term.”
The European law, which came into force on Jan. 1, 2012, covers emissions from most flights that touch down in, or take off from, European airports, obliging foreign airlines to buy some carbon permits from traders and governments. Airlines face fines of 100 euros, or $131, for each excess ton of carbon dioxide emissions that they fail to offset with permits. Repeated breaches can even lead to a ban from European airports.
So far, the rules have been applied only to flights within Europe, and European carriers and most non-European airlines have complied. The program is supposed to be expanded next year to include international flights in and out of Europe.
Despite the proposed concessions, a global deal is still a long shot. The United States and other countries have supported the arrangement, according to European Union diplomats. But emerging nations like China and India are resisting similar levels of regulation, which could make it difficult to develop global standards.
From the start, the aviation emissions law approved by European Union nations in 2008 has generated intense opposition among foreign governments, which say the rules violate their sovereignty and unfairly raise the costs of airlines from developing countries.