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BEIJING / LONDON - A 32-nation conference agreed that Europe should drop its unilateral decision to impose a green tax on airlines flying into the European Union, and a majority of countries signed a declaration opposing it, a senior official said on Thursday.
All airlines using EU airports, from this year, are required to buy permits under the Emissions Trading Scheme. The scheme was introduced unilaterally, without any negotiation.
"(Charging emission fees on international aviation) is a multilateral issue, but the EU breached this principle of handling international matters," said Ji Yuan, a deputy director at the planning and development department of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
Thirty-two countries, including China, the United States, Brazil, India, Japan, Singapore, South Africa and Argentina, participated in the international conference on cutting greenhouse gas emissions in Moscow on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"All participating countries agreed that the EU should drop its unilateral methods and return to a multilateral discussion to solve the emission issue," said Ji, who was a member of the Chinese delegation to the conference.
So far, 29 countries have signed a joint declaration opposing the European scheme.
The declaration envisages a basket of retaliatory measures to the EU emissions trading scheme, allowing any country to introduce any measure in line with national legislation to either completely scrap the ETS or to postpone it.
The measures include barring national airlines from participating in the EU's carbon scheme, lodging a formal complaint with the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization, ceasing talks with European carriers on new routes and imposing retaliatory levies on EU airlines.
"The conference has achieved its purpose. It will send a strong signal to the EU," Ji said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Thursday urged Europe to base its future decisions on the bigger picture of international cooperation on climate change, the sustainable development of international aviation as well as China-EU ties.