* Britain, France, Germany seen watering down EU position
* UN group seeking global deal on aviation emissions
* European Parliament can block a weak deal
By Barbara Lewis and Valerie Volcovici
BRUSSELS/MONTREAL, Oct 2 Britain, France and
Germany are ready to water down the EU's position on aviation
emissions to try to strike a global deal after some regions
threatened a trade war when the EU put in place restrictions on
its own, sources close to the talks said.
But the sources said the shift in stance by the countries
could jeopardise the EU's carbon trading scheme - the central
plank of its climate policy - and put them on collision course
with the European Parliament, which could reintroduce the EU
emissions restrictions if it is not happy with a global deal.
"These three countries - France, Germany and Britain - are
putting the whole deal at stake," one of the sources said on
condition of anonymity.
The U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
is meeting in Montreal this week to try to resolve the global
row which was sparked when the EU introduced a law making
airlines using EU airports pay for their carbon emissions.
The outcome of the talks will have implications for
international relations, aviation competitiveness and the EU
Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which is already struggling
under a burden of surplus carbon allowances.
The EU introduced its law after a decade of ICAO talks had
failed to reach a deal on aviation emissions, which account for
five percent of global warming, according to U.N. data, and are
expected to triple by 2050.
But, after international outrage, the bloc agreed to suspend
for one year its law for intercontinental flights.
Sources close the matter said Britain, France and Germany -
which represent some of the EU's biggest aviation interests
including IAG, Airbus, Deutsche Lufthansa
and Air France-KLM - were instrumental in
agreeing the delay, and were ready to back down again.
While the three powers dominate the European Council of
member states, their influence in the European Parliament is
limited, and parliament has said it needs a strong deal or it
will be unable to agree.
NEARLY 200 NEGOTIATORS
Negotiators from 191 countries are debating a global
market-based measure by 2020, plus a framework on regional
schemes for the interim.
That proposal was supported by the 36-member ICAO governing
council in early September as the basis for talks at the ICAO
general assembly, which concludes on Friday.
The framework is needed to allow the EU ETS, the only
existing regional scheme that applies to foreign carriers, to
continue to function until 2020.
But it has drawn fierce opposition from the United States,
Singapore and emerging economies and Britain, France, Germany
are willing to yield, the sources said.
Michel Wachenheim, France's ICAO representative and
president of the two-week assembly will on Wednesday unveil a
revised negotiating text, which has drastically watered down the
framework language, a document seen by Reuters showed.
Britain and Germany declined to say whether they backed a
watered down deal, while the French government was not
immediately available to comment.
"The UK is continuing to work closely with EU and
international partners to achieve an ambitious package towards a
global market-based aviation emissions measure by 2020, plus a
framework on regional schemes which allows the EU ETS to
continue to function in the interim," Britain's department of
energy and climate change said.
European Commission spokeswoman Helen Kearns said any
agreement was unlikely before the very end of the talks in
Montreal, which are scheduled to end on Friday.
"Europe has already been extremely flexible in agreeing to
stop the clock," she told reporters. "In doing this we avoided a
probable trade war. We now have a very important window of
opportunity between now and Friday."