EU Commission makes U-turn on carbon emissions

Guy Bentley
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The European Commission has reversed its position over plans to charge international flights for their carbon emissions.

The Commission recommended the European parliament vote to exempt international flights over the EU from the scheme.

Under the Commission's original proposals flights into and out of the EU would have been charged for their carbon use through the Emissions Trading Scheme. The current price of carbon dioxide stands at €5 per tonne.

However, the scheme was restricted to domestic EU flights for one year after strong objections from the US and China.

In 2013, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) rejected the EU's plan to apply its own scheme to charge international flights prior to a international agreement to cut aviation emissions.

Climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard, said:

Without doubt the Commission would of course have preferred and fought for a higher level of ambition.... it would've been better for Europe's self respect and reputation and even more important, for the climate. But we are where we are.

Hedegaard recommended MEPs throw their support behind a watered down version of scheme that would keep charges restricted to domestic flights until 2016. If member states fail to reach an agreement by the end of the month charges will be applied to all flights using EU airports.