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EU ready to compromise over airline carbon tax: EU sources

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(BRUSSELS) - The EU is ready to compromise over its tax on airline carbon emissions if opponents, led by the United States and China, apply a similar levy by 2016, a European source said Wednesday.

The source said Brussels will put the plan to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) later this month in the hope of getting a deal to tackle the carbon dioxide emissions many blame for global warming.

Late last year, after running into a storm of criticism, the EU suspended its CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for intercontinental flights for 2013, saying it wanted to give all sides more time to reach a global accord.

Under the ETS, airlines flying in EU airspace were required to buy pollution credits to cover 15 percent of their CO2 emissions for the entire flight, wherever it originated.

In a document seen by AFP, Brussels now proposes that the tax apply only to the part of the flight within EU airspace.

In return, however, the EU wants its partners to introduce their own CO2 levy, said a source who spoke on condition of anonymity and who added that Washington was ready to accept this formula.

"It is necessary that in exchange, the other regions formally commit at the next ICAO meeting to introduce a tax similar to the European levy by 2016," the source said.

"The aim is to agree a system to reduce CO2 emissions in the aviation industry by 2020," the source added.

The EU unilaterally introduced its CO2 tax in January 2012 but 26 of the ICAO's 36 members opposed the move, saying the levy violated international law.

The ICAO meets in Montreal from September 24.

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