By ALESSANDRO TORELLO
BRUSSELS—Airlines operating in the European Union won’t be required to pay for their greenhouse-gas emissions for another year, after the EU provisionally agreed to delay a controversial plan to charge carriers for their impact on the environment.
Under the plan, carriers will have to pay for the emissions of each flight taking off or landing in the bloc, regardless of their origin or destination.
But negotiators from the European Parliament and representatives of EU member states on Tuesday agreed, as expected, to delay the implementation of the plan for a year.
The move is aimed at finding time to reach a global agreement on how to tackle the issue of aviation emissions and defuse tensions over a plan that has triggered strong criticism by many of the EU’s main economic partners, including the U.S., China, India and Russia, in a dispute that has escalated to threats of a trade war.
China and India have told their airlines not to cooperate with the EU plan, and both houses of the U.S. Congress have passed legislation that would forbid U.S. carriers from participating, although the bills haven’t been reconciled and would need approval from President Barack Obama.
“This sends a strong signal to the international community that we are serious about our call for an international agreement on curbing aviation emissions,” said Matthias Groote, the chair of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee. “Now the door is open for an international agreement and global action.”
In November 2012, when the proposal to delay enforcement of the plan was made, airlines associations expressed cautious optimism, while environmental groups said the EU had ceded too much.