With Chinese carriers up in arms against a move by the European Union to extend its emissions trading system to cover airlines next year, the EU said it is examining whether an exemption from the programme could be granted to China because of its domestic plan.
The EU's emissions cap-and-trade system will widen its net next year to include operations at the EU's airports. But EU legislation allows incoming flights from a non-EU country to be excluded if the nation implements ''equivalent'' measures to cut pollution from aviation.
It is under such a provision that the EU will consider granting China an exemption.
With airline emissions in Europe doubling over two decades, the EU decided in 2008 that external and internal flights would be added to its emissions trading system (ETS).
The ETS includes more than 11,000 utilities and manufacturers and requires companies exceeding their carbon dioxide emissions quotas to either pay a fine or buy carbon credits from businesses with a better track record.
EU officials say with substantial annual growth in the aviation sector expected for decades to come, it will increasingly contribute to climate change unless action is initiated. The aviation sector is as liable to caps as any other sector that pollutes.