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Russia Might Acquiesce on Airline Emissions

Despite officially resisting EU carbon standards, Russian airlines sent in 2011 emissions reports on time. Andrei Makhonin

The Russian government might be willing to acquiesce on European Union plans to charge airlines for excess carbon emissions, despite previously combative statements, according to media reports.

EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said last week that "99 percent" of major airlines, including Russian ones, had provided information about emissions in 2011 by the March 31 deadline.

Only eight Chinese and two Indian carriers had failed to submit the 2011 figures, Hedegaard said.

The European Union included air carriers using European airspace in its carbon Emissions Trading Scheme, or ETS, from Jan. 1. The 2011 figures will be used to establish a benchmark to base emissions allowances on.

The scheme caps emissions at 97 percent of the previous year's levels, dropping to 95 percent from 2013. Airlines emitting more than their allocated allowance will have to slash emissions or buy more allowances.

Aeroflot, the country's largest airline, has estimated that the regulation could cost it $15 million in 2012.

Russian airlines confirmed that they had submitted the necessary information, but said they still hoped they would be able to avoid paying the new carbon tax, perhaps with the help of Kremlin intervention, Kommersant reported Friday.

But a source in the Russian government told the newspaper that Russia would rather let the United States and China lead the "war" over the issue.

"Russia prefers to take the role of a spectator," the source said.

Moscow hosted an international conference of airlines opposed to the measures in February, and Russia was one of several countries that threatened to ban their airlines from paying.

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