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Airline Carbon Credits Get Green Light From EU

(CN) - Europe's high court cleared the European Union's carbon-trading scheme for air travel, due to be implemented this January.

U.S. and Canadian airlines had challenged the EU scheme, added in 2008 to a 2003 directive. Flight operators would have to use sellable emissions allowances under the plan, which creates incentives for efficiency measures.

Following an adviser's opinion from October, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled Wednesday that the framework does not violate international law.

These include the Kyoto Protocol and Open Skies - a trade agreement designed to prevent discrimination between American and EU flight operators.

The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice asserted EU jurisdiction over flights arriving to and departing from member states, shooting down objections against basing carbon allowances on the length of a flight over the high seas.

Connie Hedegaard, the EU's climate action commissioner, expressed satisfaction with the decision, directing the following statement to American flight operators: "Now we expect them to respect European law."

A bipartisan House of Representatives committee this past September introduced a law that would prohibit implementation of the EU scheme.

House testimony indicated the EU plan could cost U.S. airlines $3 billion through 2020. The measures are expected to raise the cost of one-way trans-Atlantic tickets between $2 and $16.

Industry group Airlines for America opposed the ruling and vowed to continue fighting it.

Saying it will "comply under protest" in a statement, the group claimed to promote a global rather than regional carbon-trading framework.

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