October 25, 2011 / 3:13 PM / in 6 years

U.S. seen respecting EU carbon law -EU climate commissioner

* Some democrats disagreed with House bill on EU aviation plan

* Unclear whether Senate would back move to flout EU rules

BRUSSELS, Oct 25 (Reuters) - The European Union’s climate commissioner said on Tuesday she was sure the United States would fall in line with EU legislation that will force U.S. airlines landing or taking off from Europe to buy permits for carbon emissions from Jan. 1.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Monday that would shield U.S. passenger and cargo airlines from the European legislation.

Some Democrats in the House disagreed with the bill, and it is not clear whether the Democratic-led Senate would support the move.

“We are confident that the U.S. will respect European law, as the EU always respects U.S. law,” EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said on Twitter.

From January next year, airlines flying to and from Europe will have to buy permits under the EU’s emissions trading scheme (EU-ETS) to help offset the emissions of flights that land or take off in the EU.

The Air Transport Association of America, American Airlines and United Continental first brought a case opposing the law to the London High Court of Justice, which referred it to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) -- the highest in the EU.

On Oct. 6, the court’s adviser, Advocate General Juliane Kokott, found the European rule was within international law. {ID:nL5E7L60V4]

While the adviser’s opinion is not binding on the 27 judges who will make a final ruling, it will be taken into consideration. The final judgment is expected early next year and airlines will have to buy permits from Jan. 1, regardless of ongoing legal process.

Annie Petsonk, a lawyer for the Environmental Defense Fund lobby group, said in a statement the EU law was “a modest, non-discriminatory first-step”.

She was highly critical of Monday’s U.S. bill, saying it amounted to scoffing at legislation.

“By barring U.S.-based airlines from complying with applicable law for flights travelling to EU airports, this bill would compel those airlines either to drop their EU routes or become scofflaws,” she said.

“It’s bizarre Congress would knowingly pass a law that compels U.S.-based airlines to become outlaws when they do business in the EU.”

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