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EU may hit deal with China on carbon issue

2012-05-24 09:08 Agencies     Web Editor: Zhang Chan comment

A European envoy held out a possible compromise in a fight with China over carbon emissions charges on airlines, saying yesterday that Europe might alter its system if China helps negotiate global regulations.

China, India, the US and Russia oppose the European Union charges that took effect on January 1.

Talks on a global system have begun in the International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN body, said Matthew Baldwin, director of aviation for the 27-nation EU. He said Europe may alter its Emissions Trading System if a deal is done.

"We would very much like to see a stronger role played by China in those talks," Baldwin told reporters at a European-Chinese aviation conference. "In the event of a global solution in ICAO, the EU is fully ready to review and amend the ETS directive to take account of that global solution."

Baldwin said he would press that appeal during talks with Chinese economic planners and airline regulators this week.

Baldwin said the ICAO talks are looking at four possible "market mechanisms" to regulate carbon emissions but gave no details.

The dispute highlights the complex status of countries such as China and India that are large emission sources but as developing economies are exempt from mandatory limits.

China has promised to curb emissions but has rejected binding commitments. It warned in February that it would take steps to protect its carriers.

Under the European system, airlines flying to or from Europe must obtain certificates for carbon dioxide emissions. They will get free credits to cover most flights this year but must buy or trade for credits to cover the rest.

It is unclear how far Europe may go to compromise with China.

EU officials defend the airline charges as consistent with Europe's determination to be a leader in curbing climate change. They say that with free credits taken into account, the added cost per passenger on a flight from Beijing to Brussels, the EU capital, would be 17.50 yuan or 1.90 euros (US$2.70).

India also has barred its carriers from paying the European charges, which will be collected next year.

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