The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called for the United Nations to broker a deal on the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) after China banned carriers from joining last week.

The US, Canada, Russia and India also oppose the scheme which requires airlines entering EU airspace to buy and trade carbon credits to cover emissions.

IATA called for a speedy resolution. Director general Tony Tyler said: “I hope we are not seeing the beginning of a trade war on this issue.”

US airlines tried to block the scheme in the European courts last year, but the European Court of Justice ruled ETS legal and said it did not constitute a tax.

Tyler said the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) should be allowed to come up with a solution. However, the European Commission has previously pointed out ICAO has had a decade and a half to find a solution since the Kyoto agreement on climate change and not done so.

The IATA chief said: “A global solution under ICAO may take time, but it will produce a superior result.”

Critics of emissions trading claim it will add a considerable amount to fares, with IATA putting the total cost in excess of $2 billion a year and Chinese officials claiming the cost to the country’s carriers could be euro95 million (£79 million) a year.

However, Ryanair estimates euro0.25 per passenger covers the cost of the scheme which aims to reduce the emissions from flying by encouraging carriers to operate cleaner aircraft.