* Working group to evaluate options, report in June
* To consider role of developing countries
* Under pressure to find alternative to EU scheme
(Adds quote, link to Airbus story)
By Allison Martell
March 15 The question of what role
developing countries should play in reducing carbon emissions
threatened to derail discussions at a top-level meeting of the
United Nations body that oversees civil aviation, according to
one official who attended Wednesday's meeting.
The official, who asked not to be identified because he is
not authorized to speak to the media, said the idea of "common
but differentiated responsibility" was a point of conflict in
four hours of debate at the governing council meeting of the
International Civil Aviation Organization.
The concept of differentiated responsibility argues that
developed countries should shoulder most of the burden for
The news came as sources said China was suspending the
purchase of 10 more Airbus jets, escalating a trade row
over airline emissions.
In a decision obtained by Reuters, the council instructed a
working group to continue its study of "market-based measures"
to deal with aviation emissions and report back at the next
council meeting, scheduled for June.
It also asked the working group to evaluate whether the
measures being studied can "accommodate the special
circumstances and respective capabilities of developing
The official said a large majority of the council voted for
the decision, including China, Russia, the United States, and
the European members.
Montreal-based ICAO was thrust into the spotlight last year
after the European Union agreed on controversial new rules to
limit airline carbon emissions.
The EU rules, which took effect Jan. 1, mean that all
airlines that use EU airports must pay into a carbon offset
program. That stirred threats of an international trade war with
the potential to disrupt global air traffic.
A coalition of more than 20 countries, including China,
Russia and the United States, has been organized to oppose the
EU scheme, arguing the plan infringes on their sovereignty. In
February the group met in Moscow to discuss tactics.
"The good news is that ICAO is pressing on with its analysis
of options. The timing is ambitious. (Common but differentiated
responsibility) is certain to come up," said Bill Hemmings,
program manager of environmental lobby group Transport &
Environment. "It's not insurmountable."
Late in 2011, ICAO said it would accelerate its hunt for a
global alternative to the EU measures. It aims to have a draft
proposal by the end of 2012.
An ICAO spokesman said in December that the basic options
under consideration are some form of emissions trading,
fuel-based carbon levies, levies on departing passengers and
cargo, and carbon offsetting.
The European Commission has said it was forced to act alone
after ICAO failed to come up with a viable plan. It said it will
modify its law if the ICAO comes up with an acceptable
(Additional reporting by Barbara Lewis in Brussels; Editing by
Janet Guttsman and Peter Galloway)