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Airlines Strike Global Deal on Emissions Cuts

The European Union can move ahead with plans to charge airlines for emissions permits starting in 2012, after airlines agreed to a global deal on emissions cuts, according to the European Commission, reports Reuters.

In 2008, the EU agreed to include aviation in its emissions trading scheme (ETS), under which airlines would pay permits for each ton of carbon dioxide emitted.

Since the plan was announced, major airlines have challenged the EU’s plan to curb aviation emissions under the ETS, including American Airlines, Continental Airlines and United Airlines and the ATA, which filed a lawsuit in 2009, arguing that the rules were in violation of a 2007 bilateral air transport agreement between the U.S. and EU. The EU regulators say including the airlines in climate regulations was overdue because international aviation was not included in the Kyoto Protocol, according to the article.

Helen Kearns, spokeswoman for the European Commissioner for Transportation Siim Kallas told AFP that the resolution endorses a European plan for imposing a carbon emissions tax starting in 2012 on flights destined for or originating in Europe.

Under the agreement, which will cover 90 percent of worldwide air traffic, the sector will target annual two percent improvements in fuel efficiency and start capping emissions in 2020, reports Energy Efficiency News.

The agreement was struck thanks to exemptions for small emitters and nations with less than one percent of international air traffic, which don’t have to submit action plans for cutting emissions, according to Energy Efficiency News.

However, the goal is not binding and the resolution includes many stipulations such as “special circumstances” of developing countries, the maturity of aviation markets and sustainable growth of the industry, reports AFP.

The resolution, adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), includes a “roadmap” up to 2050 for the 190 member states, according to Reuters.

Currently, aviations accounts for around two to three percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, reports Energy Efficiency News.

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One thought on “Airlines Strike Global Deal on Emissions Cuts

  1. Oh well, so that’s all right then – the aviation industry loves ICAO and together they will save the planet.

    Not so, I’m afraid – not even close.

    According to IATA’s valedictory press release, the ICAO resolution calls for:

    “Improving fuel efficiency by 2% annually to 2050” – but even if a 2% figure can be acheived, a target questioned by the UK’s Committee on Climate Change recently who estimated a 1% annual gain as an ambitious but realistic outcome over the next 40 years, emissions growth of 3/4% annually outstrips this “aspirational” goal and aviation’s greenhouse gas impacts simply get worse over time.

    “Striving to achieve a collective medium-term aspirational goal of capping aviation’s carbon emissions from 2020” – 10 years more delay is in the only vital statistic the reader can glean from this fact-free paragraph. Climate change is the single biggest global environmental threat facing us all – urgent action is what’s needed, not another utterly irresponsible decade of delay from a major polluting industry.

    “A global CO2 standard for aircraft engines with a target date of 2013” – worthwhile but only if an ambitious standard for each class of aircraft is the outcome, one that drives rather than follows already-available technology. ICAO frankly has a poor, lowest common denominator history when setting technology performance standards.

    ICAO is simply unable to deal effectively with complex multi-faceted environmental issues that carry global political overtones and will always endorse the thinly-disguised “business-as-usual”
    option the industry demands. Imagine the outcry if, say, the World Health Organisation had been captured by the tobacco industry in this way whilst trying to control tobacco-related diseases? ICAO is, I’m afraid, the aviation industry’s poodle.

    Industry’s in-built bias simply confirms the belief that ICAO’s mazy, all-over-the-shop output is the positive “green” outcome they wanted and that it might too all somehow work as an effective programme, an interesting display of cognitive dissonance. Of course,it’s all spin.
    There is, sadly, zero content that might actually reduce gross emissions from air transport by 2050 in any meaningful way, just a massive, carefully crafted emissions reduction avoidance scheme.

    There is, however, another route – but only if the sophisticated and entirely reasonable European Union Aviation ETS is adopted by ICAO as the global gold standard. I’ve looked through all the ICAO resolutions but this bit’s missing, I’m afraid. I wonder why?

    Jeff Gazzard
    Aviation Environment Federation

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