WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS Nov 9 The European Union
welcomed on Friday progress made by the U.N.'s civil aviation
body toward a global deal to cut carbon emissions from the
sector, raising hopes that the bloc may stand down from applying
its controversial law that forces all airlines to pay for their
The governing council of the U.N.'s International Civil
Aviation Organization (ICAO), based in Montreal, discussed on
Friday how it could deliver a global approach to tackling
The European Commission, the EU's executive, has said that a
concrete global framework from ICAO would be a justification for
changing its law.
The Commission has been under immense pressure to scrap the
bloc's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which requires all
airlines using European airports to pay for each ton of carbon
they emit flying into and out of the continent.
China and India have refused to comply, while both houses of
the United States Congress have passed legislation that would
make it illegal for its airlines to abide by the EU rules.
On Friday evening, EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard
praised the "good news" from ICAO's meeting.
"Progress being made towards international regulation of
aviation emissions. Congratulations to ICAO leadership!" she
wrote in a message on Twitter.
The Commission has been critical of ICAO's progress on the
issue, and said it had only decided to include airlines in its
ETS after more than a decade of ICAO inaction.
Friday's ICAO council meeting ended with a new process and
timeline for the body to agree on a global framework to help the
aviation sector slash their greenhouse gas emissions.
ICAO is expected to assemble a high-level group of senior
government officials representing different geographical regions
next week, which will submit reports to the ICAO council for its
next meetings in March and June, according to an ICAO spokesman.
It will be expected to submit a proposal for an official
resolution by the end of the June council meeting, which would
be presented to ICAO's general assembly, which takes place once
every three years, with the next scheduled for November 2013.
The group will make recommendations on a number of potential
measures, including emissions trading programs, carbon
offsetting programs, alternative fuels and aircraft carbon
The group will decide whether ICAO should adopt a single
global market mechanism that would be applied uniformly to all
countries, or a framework uniting a patchwork of different
national programs, according to people who observed the meeting.
Environmental groups cautiously welcomed ICAO's decision to
"speed up work" on a global measure to cut aviation emissions.
"The work of the high level group on a framework must be
seen as a stepping stone to a global market-based measure and
should not replace this objective or become an obstacle to
progress," said Tim Johnson, director of the Aviation
But U.S. airlines, represented by lobby group Airlines for
America, said that despite the progress that came out of ICAO
this week, it still believes the U.S. government should continue
to oppose the ETS.
Congress is still expected to take action next week to
harmonize two different bills that have passed in both the House
of Representatives and the Senate that would shield U.S.
airlines from having to comply with the EU law.
"We still believe the legislation is needed, and we are
hopeful it can be acted on next week," said Jean Medina, a
spokeswoman for the airline group.
Annie Petsonk, international counsel of the Environmental
Defense Fund, said that President Barack Obama has a chance to
help resolve the row by supporting ICAO's work.
"To a large extent, the US holds the key to real progress on
a market-based measure now and this will be the first
opportunity for Obama to show that he means what he said in his
victory speech," she said, referring to his recent remarks that
he does not want to children to live under the threat of global