Government representatives from at least 26 countries are meeting in Moscow to discuss their opposition to the European Union's controversial aviation carbon tax. The group, which includes the U.S., China and Russia, says the carbon tax is really a trade barrier disguised as an environmental incentive and many, including the U.S., have passed legislation against participating in the scheme. But the EU says its plan, which sees airlines pay escalating taxes for going over diminishing allotments of emissions over the next eight years, is a necessary part of the global effort to fight climate change. Those opposed say Europe is welcome to carry that torch but airlines flying to and from European destinations shouldn't be subject to the tax. There are now signs the issue could blow up into a trade war.
China, for example, has banned its airlines from taking part and says the tax could cost its carriers $124 million a year initially and up to four times that by 2020. Non-payment of the carbon tax could result in the impounding of aircraft and analysts warn that once it gets to that point the tit-for-tat escalation could spread across the trade spectrum. For its part, the EU says the rest of the world should work with the EU on this issue for the sake of the environment. "Nobody would be happier than the EU if we could get such a global deal," Connie Hedegaard, the EU's Commissioner for Climate Action, told the BBC.