* Failure to agree in April could trigger trade threats
* Previous law suspended because of international opposition
By Susanna Twidale and Barbara Lewis
LONDON/BRUSSELS, March 13 A number of EU
politicians plan to vote against a deal to exempt long-haul
flights from paying for carbon emissions until the end of 2016
in an attempt to prevent the European Union from bowing to
The European Parliament's 71-member Environment Committee
will vote on March 19 on a deal brokered by EU diplomats earlier
in March to extend a so-called "stop the clock" measure
exempting intercontinental flights from regulation under its
Emissions Trading System (ETS).
Next week's vote of the cross-party committee would be a
preliminary indication of whether the proposal can win enough
support in the full 766-strong EU Parliament, a step required
before it can become law.
Failure to get final agreement on the compromise before the
end of April would be likely to reignite tensions with Europe's
major trading partners, such as China and the United States, and
risk a trade war.
But for environmentalists, it would be a triumph because it
would mean that an existing law that requires all aviation to
pay for emissions would automatically apply.
Under the "stop-the-clock" proposal, only internal EU
flights are charged for emissions.
Matthias Groote, environment committee chairman in the
European Parliament, said by phone there was still no majority
either way in the committee on the issue.
The centre-right European People's Party (EPP), the biggest
grouping in the parliament, is broadly in favour of the
extension, but liberal ALDE member Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy said by
phone he was encouraging his members to vote against the deal.
Groote said there was still opposition to the deal among
some members of his Socialist Party, while the Greens, the
European Parliament's fourth-biggest group, have already said
they would oppose the proposal.
The European Union in 2012 started charging all airlines
that use EU airports for all of their emissions.
But after fierce opposition from China and the United
States, it suspended the law to give the U.N.'s global aviation
body, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), more
time to craft a global measure to regulate airlines' rising
output of heat-trapping gases.
Last October, the roughly 190 nations at ICAO agreed to
design a global scheme by 2016, which would not take effect
until 2020, and rejected letting Europe apply its own plan to
foreign carriers in the meantime.
Gerbrandy said he was seeking a compromise that would mean
international airlines would have to pay for their emissions
once they entered European airspace, in line with a proposal put
forward by the Commission.
"For me this (law) goes much further than aviation and the
climate. It is about the position of the EU in the world," he
Environmental campaigners also say the parliament should
hold out for an airspace approach.
"The International Civil Aviation Organisation recognises
that regulating emissions in states' airspace is legal," Bill
Hemmings, aviation manager at campaign group Transport &
Environment, said. "This is what the parliament should ensure
(editing by Jane Baird)