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Aviation

Non-EU airlines off the hook over carbon emission fees

The European Commission has said it's willing to put on hold fees that non-EU airlines have had to pay in the framework of a carbon emissions trading scheme. But the concession may not last long.

The European Commission announced on Monday it would shelve a law that made all airlines pay for harmful carbon emissions for flights to and from Europe.

EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said regulations would be watered down for the time being to provide a better environment for negotiations at the United Nations level to deliver a global deal.

"To create a better atmosphere, we have agreed to stop the clock," Hedegaard told reporters in Brussels. The European Union had been under enormous pressure internationally to scrap its law making all airlines using EU airports pay carbon allowances under its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Ratcheting up the pressure

The European executive made it clear, though, that EU carriers would still have to pay for their emissions on European flights and added that EU member states would still have to endorse the Commission's exemption for non-EU airlines.

It emphasized that the proposal was one of good will and would certainly be taken back if the UN airline body ICAO proved unable to strike a global deal until November 2013. "If this exercise ends in nothing, we're back to exactly where we were with the ETS automatically," Hedegaard commented.

The Commission stressed it had only put its law in pace after more than a decade of inaction at the ICAO, adding that nobody wanted an international framework on aviation more than the EU did.

hg/dr (AFP, Reuters)