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Europe to address US emissions trading scheme concerns

The European Commission will hold a technical discussion about the European Union's emissions trading scheme with EU member states, the USA and Eurocontrol following the latest round of US-EU open skies talks, Europe's lead open skies negotiator Daniel Calleja says.

During the negotiations, the USA raised issues pertaining to operators and flights covered in the scheme and Europe has agreed to clarify the matter, saysCommission's air transport directorate.

Europe will fold flights within, to and from the EU into its emissions schemefrom 2012.

The EC published its finalised list of air operators and administering states based on Eurocontrol data in August as most administering states required carriers to submit their monitoring plans by 31 August.

The list of more than 3,700 operators included some US carriers that do not fly to Europe,as well as some defunct operators. For example, Frontier Airlines was assigned to Germany, but the Denver-based carrier does fly to Europe, whileGolappeared under Denmark's purview even though the Brazilian operator ceased long-haul flights in 2008,and Columbus, Ohio-based Skybus Airlines was assigned to Germany despitethe domestic carrier ceasingall operations in 2008.

"ETS is a very ambitious and very complex initiative," Calleja says. Europe will see if operators listed are subject to the ETS, he adds.

The environment is one of several issues that European and US negotiators must sort through during second-stage talks, which have a November 2010 deadline or either side has the right to withdraw traffic rights secured in the first phase of open skies.

The International Civil Aviation Organisationconcluded its high-level climate change meeting on 9 October, declaring thatmember states should work together to achieve a global annual average fuel efficiency improvement of 2% until 2020.

ICAO will consider the possibility of more ambitious goals, including carbon neutral growth and emissions reductions, by its next assembly in the third quarter of2010, and establish a process to develop a framework for economic measures.

Calleja also says he would like to see the industry set higher environmental targets.

The International Air Transport Associationhas outlined a proposal under which airlines will halve emissions by 2050, set a target of improving fuel efficiency by 1.5% annually in the run-up to 2020 and, from then on, stabilise emissions through carbon-neutral growth.

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