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European Nations Look to Extend Carbon Trading Scheme to Foreign Airline Carriers

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A passenger aircraft, with the full "Harvest Moon" seen behind, makes its final approach to landing at Heathrow Airport in west LondonMany European nations have expressed the desire to curb airline emissions, but are coming under pressure due to the desire for foreign air carriers to have a carbon trading scheme.

Delegates to the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) are meeting in Montreal to come to an agreement in order to limit carbon emissions in the aviation sector. The meeting addressed the most delicate issue; to develop a framework extending to national or regional market-based schemes.

The framework allows the emissions trading scheme to apply to foreign countries for the next seven years. Some support European nations by saying that they have already scaled back their reach from direct routes to sovereign air space. Others, like China and India, have expressed concern and brought forth a proposal not to allow the EU ETS to apply to foreign airlines. A delegate from Pakistan noted that it violated the Chicago Convention, an international agreement that ensures fairness with global aviation. Many African countries are also in opposition to this because they want to protect their growing airline industry.

ICAO assembly President Michel Wachenheim suggested that the regional schemes be based on routes, rather than country. “Revenue Ton Kilometers” would determine this and would replace the less than 1 percent threshold a country contributes globally.

Despite strong opposition, the EU has decided to include foreign airlines in its trading scheme. However, because of international outrage, the EU has decided to suspend any action on intercontinental flights. Countries will continue the debate on Thursday where hopefully, an opportunity will open up to move forward.

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