Thursday, May 25, 2017

Transparency Is Essential to Make Aviation Climate Deal Work - By Connie Hedegaard

As countries write the rules for airlines to offset their emissions growth, they must make sure there is no double-counting (Pic Credit: Pixabay)) Click to Enlarge.
Last October, many rejoiced when 190 governments reached agreement on a climate deal for international aviation, but it’s not time to sit back and relax.

Many details still need to be worked out, with transparency being one of the most important, to ensure the agreement truly helps the environment.

Countries are meeting soon to discuss the rules that will govern the agreement. These meetings are highly technical but also highly consequential.  If the outcome is hiding the aviation agreement’s results from the world, we will have no way to know we are flying on course to a sustainable planet.

Without transparency, there is a risk that emission reductions credited to the aviation sector could be double-counted in the Paris Agreement, weakening overall climate ambition.

The aviation deal, which was struck at the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), aims to stabilize emissions from this sector at 2020 levels by requiring airlines to purchase reductions elsewhere in order to compensate for their growing emissions.

It is a tentative first step, and needs to be much more ambitious to make sure that aviation plays its role in addressing climate change.  But it’s an important development, and one which would not have occurred without years of persistent European leadership and engagement.

Establishing effective carbon markets is no easy feat, especially one where airlines purchase emission reductions from other sectors.  To put it simply – how can you be sure these reductions are not also being counted toward other climate targets?  Moreover, some “offset credits” have been shown not to represent real emission reductions.  How can you be sure that the credits airlines buy meet minimum quality standards?

Transparency must be the overriding principle to address these concerns.  Consumers who fly, and therefore pay for these offsets, need to know whether their airline is complying with international rules; whether the emission reductions promised are actually delivered; and whether those same emission reductions have been pledged to anyone else.

This level of transparency can be achieved if each airline is required to disclose its total emissions each year, and document that it is meeting its goals under the agreement.  All programs that supply emission reductions to the airlines must provide assurances that these reductions aren’t being claimed by anyone else.

Read more at Transparency Is Essential to Make Aviation Climate Deal Work

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