Applying the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) carbon tax to the world's airlines is an important challenge to the long-standing process of agreeing aviation rules and regulations through ICAO, the US State Department's transportation chief said Thursday.

State Department deputy assistant secretary for transportation affairs Krishna Urs said if countries do not go through ICAO to agree to new international rules and regulations, it creates a hodge podge of rules that make it very complicated for the world's airlines to manage.

Speaking at the Phoenix International Aviation Symposium in Scottsdale, Arizona, Urs said of ETS, "I think it is important that this year we are facing a very important challenge on this front."

"The way to resolve this is for all countries to get together at ICAO and find a solution that is agreeable," Urs said. "If we have separate rules that proliferate around the world, then there are real implications and problems for aviation around the world."

FedEx Express VP-regulatory, labor and employment law Steven Taylor, who was on the same panel as Urs, added, "ETS is a classic example of a community pursuing their legitimate goals in all the wrong ways, so the legitimacy and value of what they are trying to accomplish gets lost."

Negotiations at ICAO remain at an early stage (ATW Daily News, March 19).