Politicians from across the political divide in America have spoken out to voice their opposition to European Union plans to force airlines to purchase 'carbon credits' in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Emissions Trading Scheme is the largest scheme of its kind in the world, and covers major carbon dioxide producers across all 27 EU member states plus Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein. Businesses included in the scheme include factories, large businesses and power generators.
The scheme works by allocating countries a carbon allowance, in the form of permits which allow businesses to produce a set amount of harmful gases. The output of these major carbon producers has been monitored since 2005.
If a business exceeds its allocation then it must buy new permits from the open market. Conversely businesses that emit less carbon dioxide will have a surplus of permits which they can sell to the market for a profit, thus incentivising lower carbon emissions.
The aviation industry was brought into the scheme this January. Major airlines have been given 85% of their first year emissions-permits for free, but this will still add a small fee on to the cost of each flight. In future the costs and administration burden are set to rise, prompting major airlines to complain that the system is unworkable.
It seems that US politicians agree, as they believe the law will have a big effect on major US airlines currently operating on lucrative transatlantic routes.
Senator Jay Rockefeller is the chairman of the Senate Commerce committee.
"The European Union acted because it believes it needed to make a bold effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and I understand why they did so. But, I believe that their unilateral action is likely not sustainable by international law," he said at a hearing.
"I support the goals, but I have to oppose the action."
However Jos Delbeke, the director general of climate action at the European Commission, believes that the legislation must remain despite the criticism.
"There is no prospect of suspending the EU legislation," he said.
However, he added that the EU is not averse to adapting its provisions as part of a global approach, providing it was market-based, stringent and covered all airlines and all countries.
The US House of Representative is now weighing up legislation which would exempt its airlines from the EU law.
US stiffen opposition to European carbon emissions ruling (The Telegraph)