U.S. to host meeting of opponents of EU airline law

WASHINGTON, July 13 Fri Jul 13, 2012 3:45am EDT

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WASHINGTON, July 13 (Reuters Point Carbon) - The U.S. government will host a meeting on July 31 of about a dozen countries that oppose an EU law that forces all foreign airlines to pay for greenhouse gas emissions, piling further pressure on the EU to back down and the international community to find a global solution.

A State Department official confirmed that it will host the two-day meeting in Washington D.C. with the Department of Transportation, at which countries will discuss ways they can fight back against the EU's requirement that foreign all airlines using EU airports to participate in its emissions trading scheme.

The meeting is a follow-up to a February gathering of the so-called "coalition of the unwilling" in Moscow, where around 20 countries agreed on a basket of retaliatory measures against the EU.

The array of options discussed in the Russian capital included barring national airlines from participating in the carbon scheme, lodging a formal complaint with the U.N's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), ceasing talks with European carriers on new routes and imposing retaliatory levies on EU airlines.

As countries, such as the U.S., China and India continue to voice strong opposition to the scheme, European officials said today they are "totally committed" to reaching a global deal to curb emissions from planes.

Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and ICAO President of the Council Roberto Kobeh held talks in Brussels on Thursday, Reuters reported.

"The EU is very committed, totally committed, to reaching an agreement that fully respects the conditions that we have put forward," Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen told a briefing.

Countries opposed to the EU scheme have all said they prefer to participate in a global emissions framework under ICAO.

EU officials have criticized the Montreal-based U.N. organization for being too slow in crafting an international scheme.

Since January this year, all airlines using EU airports are required to buy permits under the ETS.

Airlines will not have to pay for the permits until next year, and are pressing their governments to agree on a global deal before then.

Russ Bailey, a senior attorney for the Air Line Pilots Association, a U.S. lobby group, said time is running out for EU ETS opponents to come up with a viable alternative.

"There is a sense of urgency because airlines have to start paying next April. We hope there will be a resolution that becomes clear enough before then," he told Reuters Point Carbon.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici)

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