A dispute over whether U.S. airlines will have to offset the carbon they emit on flights to and from Europe may be inching closer to a diplomatic breakthrough, according to officials involved in the negotiations.
In January, the European Union began implementing an Emissions Trading Scheme, which compels airlines to buy carbon allowances for flights landing in and taking off from Europe. The U.S. government — along with the governments of 79 other countries — objects to the program.
The European Commission estimates the program could add between $2.66 and $15.96 to the cost of a ticket over the coming decade; airlines will start paying the fee in April 2013.
On Tuesday, Airlines for America, the trade group that unsuccessfully sought to block the program through European courts, dropped its legal appeal and said it hoped the Obama administration would continue to fight the policy through diplomatic measures.
Nancy Young, the trade group’s vice president for environmental affairs, said that if the E.U. did not respond to the administration’s objections, “We would assume that the U.S. would ratchet [the political pressure] up again.”