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The EU extended its emissions-trading program to European and foreign airlines at the beginning of this year, though it has said it will not try to collect the fee until Jan. 1 next year.

Airlines aren’t necessarily opposed to paying for their emissions in European airspace, which is unquestionably under EU jurisdiction, but chafe at being charged for emissions over other parts of the world. For example, European airspace takes up only 9 percent of a flight from San Francisco to London, according to Airlines for America. The rest is over the U.S., Canada and the high seas, but airlines would be charged for the entire 5,371-mile trip.

The emission-control plan requires the airline industry to cut its carbon dioxide emissions from the 2004-06 average by 3 percent in 2012 and 5 percent in 2013. Carriers, which initially receive 85 percent of their emissions certificates free, must bid for the rest.

“As you know, we believe aviation emissions is an issue which needs to be tackled globally, and we expect our partners to contribute constructively to this,” Ms. Kofler said.

But Mr. Aboulafia predicts that the “poorly thought out” plan will be dropped before airlines actually have to start paying out the cash.

“Given the concerted opposition,” he said, “I don’t think this is going to last much longer.”

But it won’t be so easy, environmentalists say.

“The EU can’t just ‘drop’ the law. It’s a law,” said Annie Petsonk, international counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund. “That would be like the U.S. Congress ‘just dropping’ a law Congress enacted — only more so, because the EU Parliament and all the member states would have to undo it.

“The EU has made it abundantly clear it will not delay, suspend or repeal the law,” she added.