By Vittorio Hernandez

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

European Court of Justice Advocate General Juliane Kokott said ruled that the European Union proposed cap on airlines, which applies even to North American carriers, is legal.

Kokott's opinion, which will likely be adopted by the court when it issues a ruling on the issue next year. The emissions scheme is scheduled to take effect in January 2012. It is actually an expansion of EU's 2003 law on greenhouse gas emission allowances trading, which is a key component of the continent's climate change policy.

Although the 1997 Kyoto Climate pact agreed that nations would address the problem of aviation emissions jointly through the International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN body, negotiations in the ICAO have not progressed.

The aviation industry contributes 3 percent of the total carbon dioxide emission, but air carriers are not paying emission taxes on fuel.

Kokott said that the inclusion of all airlines that fly in and out of European gateways is compatible with the principle of fair and equal opportunity under the Open Skies Agreement.

The challenge to the EU law was made by United Continental, American Airlines and the Air Transport Association of America.

EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, who welcomed Kokott's non-binding opinion, said last month that while the EU does not want to dictate to the world, the aviation industry cannot be excluded forever from paying for the cost of its emissions.


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World - European Union Carbon Cap on Airlines Legal | Global Viewpoint