By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen
— 29 states adopt “basket of measures” against EU
— Each state to choose its own actions
— Countries aim to cancel or postpone EU emissions law
— Russia may limit EU carriers” flight over Siberia
MOSCOW — A group of 29 nations Wednesday intensified pressure on the European Union to abandon a law that forces airlines to pay for carbon emissions, seeking retaliation against the EU and raising the risk of a trade war.
The nations, which include the U.S., Russia, China and India, agreed to adopt a “basket of measures,” permitting each participating state to choose the actions that it finds most effective, to counteract the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, or ETS, said Valery Okulov, Russia’s deputy transportation minister, following a two day meeting in Moscow.
The ETS was expanded Jan. 1 to include airlines, which must surrender credits to offset carbon-dioxide emissions for flights starting or ending at an EU airport, effectively imposing an extra tax. With the disputed law the EU hopes to create a global carbon market that would lead the world in the fight against global warming, but it has met strong resistance and raised fears of a trade war, as opponents say the bloc is exceeding its legal authority by imposing emissions charges for flights outside the EU.
A top European court said in December the charges are legal.
“We are calling on the European Union to do whatever it takes to prevent a trade war,” said Okulov, who is also chief of Russia’s state-owned carrier OAO Aeroflot (AFLT.RS). “We intend to get EU’s carbon trading measures either canceled or postponed.”
The EU didn’t take part in the Moscow talks and presented no new proposals following the most recent negotiations in January, Okulov said.
As a measure of retaliation, Russia may limit European carriers” flights across Siberia, he said, a key transit route for flights between Asia and Europe.
Other measures adopted in the declaration include the option for each country to bar its airlines from participating in the carbon trading program, impose retaliatory measures on EU airlines and the possibility of filing a formal complaint with the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO, Okulov said.
A spokesman for EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard called for alternative proposals at international level.
“The countries criticizing the EU should come forward with concrete and constructive proposals,” the spokesman said at a briefing in Brussels Wednesday. He encouraged all countries to “focus their efforts on injecting positive ideas and forward-looking solutions into a U.N.-led process, and not selective parallel meetings.”
China recently told its airline companies not to participate in the carbon trading system, and Okulov said Russia plans to do the same.
The group of countries opposing the EU law will next meet this summer in Saudi Arabia.
(Alessandro Torello in Brussels contributed to this story.)