* EU exempted foreign flights from scheme until 2017
* UN agency approved deal to curb aviation emissions in Oct
* EU proposes extending exemption until at least 2021
* UN deal enters into force in 2021
By Julia Fioretti
BRUSSELS, Feb 3 International flights in and out
of the European Union could be exempted from emissions limits
for at least another four years to give the United Nations time
to implement a global system to curb pollution from planes.
The EU proposed extending the exemption, which was set to
end at the start of 2017, on Friday to avoid a repeat of
tensions when it tried to include all flights in 2012.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
clinched a deal on a global market-based measure for offsetting
airline emissions in October, but it will not be mandatory until
2027, prompting criticism from environmental campaigners.
Airlines strongly backed the ICAO deal as they want to avoid
a patchwork of national and regional schemes.
But it was seen as not being ambitious enough by the
European Parliament, which along with member states, will have
to approve the EU exemption proposal.
This foresees an indefinite extension of the so-called "stop
the clock" provision exempting airlines from surrendering carbon
allowances for flights into and out of the bloc.
It will be reviewed by the European Commission as details on
the implementation of the UN scheme become clear and before it
takes effect in 2021.
The fate of the emissions trading system (ETS) covering
flights within Europe will also be assessed in the review, EU
officials said, adding that all options were on the table,
including dismantling it once the global system is in place to
avoid double counting for flights within the bloc.
"The European Union is now focused on getting the global
scheme up and running. We are serious about achieving carbon
neutral growth for aviation worldwide, and we will provide
technical support to make it happen," Violeta Bulc, the EU's
transport commissioner, said.
The EU had ordered carriers to buy credits for foreign
flights under its ETS in 2012 but backtracked when countries
said it violated their sovereignty and China threatened to
cancel plane orders from Airbus Group.
The ETS is much more stringent than the ICAO deal as
emissions are capped at certain levels. The deal reached by ICAO
allows carriers to increase emissions without limit as long as
they offset them by purchasing carbon credits from designated
Aviation, which produces about 2 percent of carbon dioxide
emissions, was excluded from the Paris accord to fight climate
change, and environmental groups say the ICAO deal is not
compatible with accord's aim to limit temperature increases.
(Editing by Alexander Smith)