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EU may delay airline emissions rule

BRUSSELS — The European Commission said Monday that it would seek to delay for one year a plan to charge foreign airlines for greenhouse gas emissions, potentially removing one of the most contentious issues clouding trade relations with China, India, and the United States.

The system, which requires airlines using an airport in Europe to obtain or buy permits corresponding to the amount of gases they emit, had generated intense opposition among foreign governments. They accused the European Union of violating their sovereignty and unfairly raising the costs paid by airlines from developing countries by imposing its environmental standards on the world.

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Europe had insisted the law was necessary because of a failure to control pollution from air traffic, which represents about 3 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions and is growing much faster than efforts to cut them.

Connie Hedegaard, the European­ climate commissioner, said she had asked the bloc’s 27 governments to ‘‘stop the clock’’ on the system for one year; the first payments under the program would have been due in April.

But she threatened to re-impose the rule if there was not sufficient progress in establishing a global system to cut the emissions.

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