Airline Industry Favors Global Carbon Offsets

by | May 14, 2013

United AirlinesThe International Air Transport Association yesterday said the industry prefers a global carbon offsetting system that involves buying carbon credits rather than an industry-wide cap-and-trade system, Reuters reports.

A group of high-level aviation industry representatives from 17 countries is working with the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to develop a plan to curb the aviation sector’s growing greenhouse gas emissions by the ICAO’s General Assembly in September.

Reuters reports the group is considering three options: a mandatory offsetting program, mandatory offsetting that would raise revenue to fund joint measures to address climate change and a global emissions trading scheme along the lines of the European Union’s carbon market.

Last November, the European Commission suspended its carbon emissions laws on flights taking off or landing from EU member states after the ICAO agreed to consider a global plan to cut airline emissions.

At the time, commissioner for climate action Connie Hedegaard said the EU would “stop the clock” for a year on aviation’s inclusion within the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme until after the ICAO General Assembly. The EU regulations required airlines to limit carbon emissions or buy permits to make up the shortfall, and applied to all flights within, to and from the EU.

The US, China, India and Russia have all lobbied against the inclusion of all airlines in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

In 2011, 26 ICAO member counties including the US and China lodged a formal complaint through the organization urging Brussels not to require compliance from non-EU carriers. The airline industry said the rules could cost it €1.2 billion ($1.56 billion) in 2012, an amount equal to a quarter of 2011’s profits.

Paul Steele, executive director of the Air Transport Action Group, told Reuters yesterday that a mandatory offsetting system would likely begin sometime after 2020. Under the industry-favored option, the ICAO would set an emissions baseline, such as an average of the last three years prior to 2020.



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