The US government rejected new rules that would see US airlines pay for carbon emissions across European air space, warning it will take action to counter EU legislation.
The US Department of Transportation said it opposed a court ruling which told US airlines to get ready to obey emissions rules in the same way EU companies do.
While Washington has backed measures to combat climate change, the US said it "strongly objects, on both legal and policy grounds, to the EU's plan to impose its own policies on other countries."
The European Court of Justice earlier ruled that the EU could, from next year, include all carriers in a carbon trading system targeting polluters as part of the EU's efforts against climate change.
The court said the plan "infringes neither the principles of customary international law at issue nor the Open Skies Agreement" covering transatlantic flights.
That did not sit well with the US administration, which indicated further action would be taken.
"The US has a number of options at its disposal that we will exercise as appropriate," an official said.
US and Canadian carriers argued the decision was discriminatory and amounted to a backdoor tax.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had warned of reprisals ahead of the ruling.
The judgment "risks unleashing a trade war between Europe and the United States," a high-ranking aviation source told AFP.
by Roddy Thomson
(c) 2011 AFP
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