Moscow air talks to debate measures against EU

BRUSSELS Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:15am EST

Airplanes are seen amidst heavy smog, caused by peat fires in nearby forests, at Domodedovo airport outside Moscow, August 8, 2010. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Airplanes are seen amidst heavy smog, caused by peat fires in nearby forests, at Domodedovo airport outside Moscow, August 8, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Nations opposing a European Union law that forces all airlines to pay for their carbon emissions will next week debate an array of counter-measures, a draft agenda seen by Reuters on Friday showed, raising the risk of an aviation trade war.

The agenda also refers to the formal dispute procedure under the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, although some airline representatives and analysts have said the meeting would be unlikely to decide on whether to invoke that for now.

China, the United States, India and Russia are among those to have expressed vehement opposition to the EU legislation requiring carriers using EU airports to acquire allowances under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme ETS.L.

China's central government State Council, or cabinet, earlier this month said all airlines were barred from taking part - unless they received government approval to do so.

The so-called "coalition of the unwilling" - bringing together 26 nations - has held a series of meetings.

At its two-day Moscow gathering beginning on Tuesday, Russian Transport Minister Igor Levitin is expected to open the "follow-up international conference" on coordinating activities to opposing the inclusion of aviation in the EU ETS.

According to the draft seen by Reuters, the meeting will go on to debate an unspecified "basket of countermeasures".

Other agenda items refer to a letter to EU member states and "application aspects of the article 84 of the Chicago Convention", again without explanation.

Article 84 covers a formal dispute procedure at the U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO.L.

Airline representatives and analysts have said it would be unwise to opt for the extremely lengthy formal dispute procedure before ICAO has had another chance to find a global market-based solution to airline emissions.

YEARS OF TALKS

The EU has said it only acted to include all airlines in its scheme because more than a decade of talks at ICAO failed to find an answer to curbing rising carbon emissions from aviation.

But progress at ICAO has accelerated since the EU began including all airlines in its ETS from the start of this year.

While the EU has said it will stand firm, it has also said it is very much in favour of global action and would adapt its law if ICAO comes up with a world-wide scheme.

"A solution is clear: rather than asking for the suspension of the only functioning system that exists to address aviation's carbon emissions, we'd like to see the countries criticising the EU come forward with concrete suggestions, in the framework of ICAO, for an even better, global solution," Isaac Valero-Ladron, EU spokesman for climate action, said.

(Reporting by Barbara Lewis; editing by Keiron Henderson)