This week, the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) met to discuss how to cut greenhouse gas emissions from flying. The meeting in Montreal is the first to discuss aviation emissions since ambitious global climate change goals were set by the Paris Agreement in December.
References to aviation and shipping were removed from the Paris Agreement at the eleventh hour, so the ICAO process must deliver an effective mechanism for reducing emissions from aviation in line with the Paris agreement.
Key aims of the ICAO meeting included finalising a global CO2 standard for aircraft and making progress on a market-based measure (MBM) to cap net emissions from international flights at 2020 levels. The MBM is due for a final decision in October.
James Beard, WWF-UK’s aviation specialist said: “International aviation emits more carbon dioxide than the poorest 129 countries in the world added together and yet there’s still no framework in place to reduce these emissions. We can’t keep global temperature rise below 1.5oC unless international aviation does its fair share to cut emissions.
“The CO2 Standard was a great opportunity for carbon reductions, but it does not bite hard or soon enough, especially on existing aircraft designs, to make a major dent in soaring aviation emissions.
“ICAO’s market-based measure must be more ambitious. It must be fair for all countries, it must reduce emissions in line with the global 1.5oC degree goal, and it must only support quality carbon credits and sustainable alternative fuels.”
ICAO will decide on proposals for the MBM at its 2016 Assembly in October. The initial goal of the MBM will be to halt any net growth in CO2 emissions from international flights from 2020. It will work by requiring airlines to offset any emissions above 2020 levels. It will also take into account emissions reductions from sustainable alternative fuels.
An MBM is needed because, even with good progress on other mitigation measures, aviation emissions are still likely to increase out to 2050 due to growing passenger numbers. If the MBM does not reflect the ambition of the Paris Agreement, it will be essential that national and regional governments are able to take their own more ambitious actions to tackle the climate change impacts of international aviation.