Europe

US rallies opponents of EU carbon tax on airlines

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Media captionNations opposed to the EU's controversial carbon tax on airlines meet in Washington aiming to come up with an alternative plan

The US is hosting a two-day meeting of countries opposed to the EU's controversial carbon tax on airlines.

Delegates meeting at the US Department of Transportation in Washington DC are exploring an alternative global solution that would include the EU.

China, India, Russia and the US are among the countries opposed to the EU scheme, which took effect on 1 January.

The US says the EU's unilateral action could lead to a patchwork system if other countries impose their own tax.

International airlines will begin receiving bills in April 2013, after this year's carbon emissions have been assessed.

A US Senate committee voted on Tuesday to move forward a measure that would make it illegal to comply with the EU law.

'Lousy law'

On Monday, airline industry groups called for the Obama administration to challenge the EU law's application to foreign carriers.

A letter from Airlines for America (A4A) and the US Chamber of Commerce urged the US to file an action under the United Nations' aviation body, the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

The BBC's Kim Ghattas in Washington says the looming deadline to pay up and the prospect of a trade war next year may motivate the delegates in that city to find a way out of the impasse, though no breakthrough is expected this week.

American officials have warned the EU's unilateral action could lead to a patchwork system around the world if other countries start imposing their own tax.

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has denounced the EU tax as "a lousy policy, a lousy law", saying the EU "should have done it in a more collaborative way".

The EU has refused to back down and has expressed frustration that opposing countries have not come up with a serious, alternative proposal.

The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) creates permits for carbon emissions. Airlines that exceed their allowances will have to buy extra permits, as an incentive to airlines to pollute less.

The number of permits is reduced over time, so that the total CO2 output from airlines in European airspace falls.

European officials say the scheme could force airlines to add between 4 and 24 euros ($5 to $29; £3 to £19) to the price of a long-haul trip, the AFP reports.

The European Commission says Europe would be willing to join a global scheme run by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) if it matches the targets set by the EU scheme.

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