Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Explainer:  How Aviation Could, Finally, Agree a Climate Deal

Growth in origin and destination (OD) passengers by 2034. (Credit: Airports Commission Final Report, based upon IATA, Tourism Economics, “Air Passenger Forecasts”) Click to Enlarge.
In 2010 the aviation industry agreed an aspirational goal to cap its emissions after 2020, so that future growth would have to be “carbon neutral”.

This won’t be easy.  The industry is expected to grow at an average rate of around 5% per year over the next two decades.  This means that it will either have to find a way to drastically increase its efficiency, or balance its own emissions through cuts made in other sectors.
In 2015 aviation emitted 781m tonnes of CO2, which is slightly more than Germany.  If it was a country, it would be the world’s sixth largest emitter.

Despite this, aviation does not feature in the Paris Agreement – as is also the case for shipping.  Instead, it has its own UN body called the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).  Since 1997, when countries adopted the Kyoto Protocol, this group has been tasked with coming up with a way to reduce emissions from aviation.

Almost 20 years later, it might finally agree on a scheme.  From 27 September to 7 October, ICAO member states will meet at its next assembly, where emissions reductions are on the agenda.  Stakes are high, as the assembly only meets once every three years — further delays could push back action by years, during which time emissions will continue to rise.

A lengthy debate
It is worth bearing in mind that any scheme will only apply to international flights, as domestic aviation emissions are already included in countries’ national accounting and targets.  International aviation is responsible for around 62% of total aviation emissions.
[I]t is acknowledged in the industry and by scientists that tinkering with aircraft efficiency will not deliver the types of reductions required to allow the industry to grow without adding to emissions.  Therefore, ICAO is expected to agree some kind of market-based mechanism that would see it buying savings elsewhere to cover its emissions.

Read more at Explainer:  How Aviation Could, Finally, Agree a Climate Deal

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