Airlines urge US to take stronger approach versus EU carbon law

By Valerie Volcovici, Reuters

WASHINGTON — A coalition of industry lobby groups urged the Obama administration on Monday to take more aggressive measures to challenge an EU law that forces airlines that use European airports to pay for their carbon emissions, as two U.S. agencies prepare to host 16 countries to discuss a global framework for an alternative. Groups including Airlines for America (A4A) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood calling on them to file an action under the U.N.’s aviation body, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), to force the EU to stand down from forcing foreign airlines to comply with the bloc’s emissions trading system (ETS). EU countries are among ICAO’s 190 members. “As each day goes by without an EU act to halt or suspend the ETS, the harm to U.S. airlines and aircraft operators and the threat to U.S. sovereignty grow while the U.S. government’s credibility is weakened,” the groups said. The coalition sent the letter the day before the departments of State and Transportation host a two-day meeting on July 31 and Aug. 1 in Washington led by the State Department’s climate change envoy Todd Stern, who represents the U.S. in U.N. climate treaty negotiations. The meeting will “explore whether there might be a basis for a global solution to addressing greenhouse gas emissions from aviation and a global solution that would include the EU,” a senior administration official said Monday.

The official said the meeting will not conclude with a draft declaration, but would explore whether opposing countries and the EU could agree on goals and a market-based framework to curb carbon emissions under ICAO.