LAST fall, when Democrats and Republicans seemed unable to agree on anything, one bill glided through Congress with broad bipartisan support and won a quick signature from President Obama: theEuropean Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011.
This odd law essentially forbids United States airlines from participating in the European Union Emissions Trading System, Europe’s somewhat lonely attempt to rein in planet-warming emissions. Under that eight-year-old program, European power plants and manufacturers pay fees if they produce excess carbon emissions. The aviation sector was slated to start paying this year, too, for emissions generated by flights into or out of European Union airports.
But after airlines and governments in the United States, India and China went ballistic — filing lawsuits, threatening trade actions and prompting legislation — the European Commission said it would delay full implementation for just one year to let the naysayers accede to an alternative global plan to reduce airlines’ carbon footprint.
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