(Jun 26, 2007)

Sarkozy supports plan to make airlines trade carbon permits

From AP

PARIS (AP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday championed an EU plan to make airlines trade carbon permits - but only if it applies to all airlines that fly to Europe, not just European companies.

''All airlines should be concerned, or none,'' he said while unveiling a huge new terminal at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport.

The European Union has been pushing to cut emissions from aviation, and wants all airlines flying within the EU to trade pollution allowances beginning in 2011, forcing them to buy more if they want to increase their flights.

The program would expand a year later to all airlines flying to the EU - a move that would hit U.S. airlines on lucrative trans-Atlantic routes. U.S. officials have opposed the idea.

The EU says the plan would give the industry a financial incentive to switch to cleaner technology or cut back routes because they could sell their unused permits to others.

''We can no longer ignore (the airline industry's) imprint on the environment,'' said Sarkozy, who has called fighting global warming a top priority since his election last month.

Air France-KLM chief Christian Spinetta said his company supports the measure. ''We are ready to play our role,'' he said Tuesday.

Airlines have complained that the measure could cost billions of euros (dollars) annually and stifle growth.

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