The European Parliament’s environment committee voted to reject a deal to exempt long-haul flights from paying for carbon emissions until the end of 2016, aiming to prevent the European Union from bowing to international pressure.

The European Parliament’s 71-member Environment Committee voted in Brussels against a deal brokered by EU diplomats earlier this month to extend a so-called “stop the clock” measure exempting intercontinental flights from regulation under the bloc’s Emissions Trading System (ETS).

The vote of the cross-party body is a preliminary indication of whether the proposal can win enough support in the full 766-strong EU Parliament in early April, a step required before it can become law.

Failure to get final agreement on the compromise before the end of April would be likely to reignite tensions with Europe’s major trading partners, such as China and the United States, and risk a trade war.

But environmentalists are pinning their hopes on a failure, which would mean that an existing law would automatically apply, requiring all flights using EU airports to pay for the entirety of their emissions. (Reuters)