* U.S. objects to EU carbon plan, seeks to
* EU says won't back down
(Updates with U.S. quotes, adds background)
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
OSLO, June 22 The United States demanded on
Wednesday that the European Union exempt U.S. airlines from an
EU law widening carbon permits to aviation, hardening a standoff
over a scheme due to start in 2012.
After talks in Oslo, the EU insisted it would not back down
on its unilateral plan to penalise greenhouse gas emissions from
planes taking off and landing in the European Union as part of
efforts to slow climate change.
"We clearly stated our strong objections to the EU plans on
both legal and policy grounds," a U.S. administration official
told a telephone news conference after talks between EU and U.S.
In the strongest public criticism of the EU carbon scheme to
date by President Barack Obama's administration, Washington said
U.S. airlines should be exempt from greenhouse gas penalties.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity like all
other delegates, said the EU was using "the wrong way to pursue
the right objective" of slowing global warming that is predicted
to cause more droughts, floods and rising sea levels.
The European Commission said there were no plans to back
down, echoing statements by President Jose Manuel Barroso
earlier this month. .
"The Commission is ready to consult at any time, but there
should be no illusion -- the EU does not intend to withdraw or
amend the ... directive. It is established EU law," an EU
official at the meeting told Reuters.
Several U.S. airlines are challenging the EU measure in
European courts. Washington said its demands in Oslo focused on
an exemption, not to try to get the EU to scrap the scheme.
"The demand we made is that the EU ETS (Emissions Trading
Scheme) should not apply to U.S. carriers. We did not talk about
how that might be done," another U.S. official said.
Washington has no plans to match the EU move from Jan. 1,
2012, when the EU will require all airlines flying to Europe to
be included in the ETS, a system that forces polluters to buy
permits for each tonne of carbon dioxide they emit above a
China has also strongly opposed the EU plan, saying it will
cost Chinese airlines 800 million yuan ($123 million) in the
first year and more than triple that by 2020.
U.S. officials declined to speculate about what might happen
on Jan. 1, 2012, if the deadlock is unresolved. The EU has said
it will impose fines for non-compliance.
The EU is aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20
percent below 1990 levels by 2020, or by 30 percent if other
nations also set tough goals in stalled U.N. negotiations on a
U.N. treaty to slow global warming.
Obama wants strong U.S. action to slow climate change but
has been unable to persuade the U.S. Senate to pass a law to cut
U.S. emissions by 3-4 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
The officials said Washington was working to cut emissions
from aviation, including with a Next Generation Air
Annie Petsonk, of the U.S. Environmental Defense Fund, said
the Obama administration had a choice.
"It can stand in the way of the only programme in the world
that sets enforceable limits on carbon pollution from aviation,
or it can begin to craft a programme that taps the ingenuity of
this dynamic sector to cut pollution, lower costs and reduce
America's dependence on imported oil," she said.
(Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
(For Reuters latest environment blogs, click on: blogs.reuters.com/environment/)