A global system to regulate runaway greenhouse gas emissions from aviation is technically and economically feasible and could help rein in climate change, according to a new World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report.
The report comes ahead of a critical meeting of the High Level Group established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal this week, where governments will attempt to revive a decade-long effort to address aviation emissions.
Aviation is the most emission-intensive form of transport on the planet and, together with shipping, is the fastest growing source of carbon emissions contributing to climate change.
Aviation Report: Market Based Mechanisms to Curb Greenhouse Gas emissions from International Aviation outlines four options, and weighs their pros and cons, to develop a global system to regulate emissions from aircraft.
These include offsetting, offsetting with a revenue generating mechanism, a cap and trade emissions trading system, and a levy with offsetting.
The report finds that the latter three options can both reduce emissions at the least cost to industry, and also generate funds that could be used to support global efforts to address climate change, while maintaining a level playing field between airlines.
“We’ve got to ensure that transportation costs include the cost to society of spewing carbon into our atmosphere – and aviation needs to do its part in global efforts to address climate change,” said Keya Chatterjee, World Wildlife Fund’s director of international climate policy. “What we’ve found is there are practical and feasible options for a truly global agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.”
“President Obama has been talking a lot about dealing with climate change, and this is a great opportunity for him to actually do something about it,” Chatterjee said. “We’ve got a venue to deal with this problem, we’ve got a deadline in just a few months, and now we just need the political will and courage to make a global market-based measure happen.”
In November, Congress directed the US government “to conduct international negotiations to pursue a worldwide approach to address aircraft emissions, including the environmental impact of aircraft emissions.”
The report finds that an ICAO decision to implement an appropriate global system “could provide an acceptable solution for parties on all sides of the debate”
Absent such an agreement in ICAO this year, airlines will face a growing patchwork of international regulations and compliance costs, while aviation emissions will continue to rise and contribute to dangerous climate change, Chatterjee said.