EU to press ahead with airline emissions levies
The EU is to press ahead with controversial emissions levies for international airlines, putting the bloc on course for a trade spat with countries including China, India and the US.
"The EU will not suspend the legislation," Siim Kallas, the European Commission's vice-president for transport, said in Singapore at an airline conference. "It's a very high-profile environmental issue."
At least 27 countries are due to meet next week in Moscow to discuss laying new charges on European airlines as they protest the EU's addition of aviation to a carbon-emissions trading system last month. The governments say the move extends EU regulations beyond the bloc's border.
"What started out as a solution for the environment has become a source of potential trade conflict," Tom Enders, chief executive officer of Airbus SAS, said. "That should be a worry for all of us."
The EU added flights to its cap-and-trade carbon programme last month. Under the system, designed to cut pollution, airlines must monitor and report their emissions on all flights into and out of Europe each year, and purchase carbon permits to cover discharges.
Carriers will be given about 85pc of their permits free of charge in 2012. One permit is equivalent to one metric tonne of carbon dioxide.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, which flies into Dublin 10 times a week, is hiking its fuel surcharge on all flights to Europe to counter the emissions cost.
Its larger rival, Dubai-based Emirates, reckons the EU scheme will cost it $1bn (€0.75bn) over the next decade.
China and India have already asked airlines to rebuff mandatory requests from the EU for data needed to fix emissions payments. Carriers will have to hand over permits for 2012 carbon production by April 30, 2013. They will receive about 85pc for free and will need to buy the rest in the market.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the main global trade body for airlines, has called on the EU to halt the emissions cap while a global system is developed.