The European Union would consider limiting its new aviation carbon levy to its own airspace, but only as part of a global deal on plane emissions, a senior commission official said on Tuesday.
But he said such a scheme would be technically difficult and was unlikely before a U.S. presidential election in November.
A new law to charge a carbon levy on flights in and out of the European Union officially took effect on January 1, prompting warnings from governments, airlines and planemakers it could lead to chaos in the skies and a trade war.
Nations such as China, India and the United States are unhappy that the EU went ahead with a scheme that applies to their airspace, while the EU says it was forced to act after years of international inaction on air travel pollution.
The EU has said the only reason it would alter course would be if the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) could come up with a global plan to tackle rising carbon emissions from the sector.
The EU levy charges for the entire length of an journey of an aircraft flying into the European union, including the section outside of EU airspace.
The commission is willing to consider an alternate scheme that would just charge for the air miles over European airspace, Eu ropean Commission Director General for Climate Action Jos Delbeke, told Reuters after giving a speech in Dublin.
"If ICAO could work it out, we are ready to look at that," he told Reuters.
"But that is not easily done. ICAO said that an airspace approach is highly complicated."
Any ICAO deal may be delayed until after U.S. election in November due to the political sensitivity of the issue among voters, he said.
"We observe the reticence that our American colleagues are showing to go into an open debate," Delbeke said.
"We hope that if not shortly before, then immediately after the U.S. elections we would have a solution on the table," he said.
Gravity always wins!
"The EU has said the only reason it would alter course would be if the
United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) could
come up with a global plan to tackle rising carbon emissions from the
Unfortunately this is not a backing down of the EU on this issue, but a continuation by other means. The real problem is that the EU does not properly recognise that other countries and trading blocs are either not interested in 'carbon reduction' schemes, or are quickly retracting from their previous support due to the high costs. This may also owe as much to the increasing recognition that the link between CO2 emissions and global warming is at best tenuous, and at worst to be insignificant when set against natural changes. The EU should stop trying to bury itself in difficult to enforce legislation, and should not seek to pull the ICAO down with it.