Aviation Climate Deal: Global Must Mean GLOBAL

2013 saw governments, industry and NGOs come together in an attempt to do something about ever increasing aviation emissions. Part of the plan is a global, market-based measure to stabilise net emissions at 2020 levels, primarily via offsetting. This was set to be agreed by Parties to ICAO at its next assembly in late September this year. Success is essential–after all, international aviation alone has a climate impact equal to the 129 lowest emitting countries combined.

With the deadline approaching, ECO is dismayed to see silos emerging. Just because international bunkers are not part of the Paris Agreement, Parties can’t try to shift responsibility to others. It’s time to work out a deal that’s fair to all. All countries must act so that aviation emissions, everywhere, can fall to reach 1.5°C. Historically, developed countries have produced the majority of aviation emissions—the EU and US combined account for 40%, for example. However, developing countries are fast catching up, with some large developing countries growing at 2 or 3 times the global average.

Developed countries, especially the US, appear to be trying to take advantage of how their emissions grew rapidly in previous decades to craft a deal that places little to no obligation on their airlines. Many developing countries are ignoring the Paris spirit of “we’re in this together” by trying to opt-out entirely. On that note, ECO salutes Mexico for agreeing to join from the very beginning.

A comprehensive deal with global coverage, fair to all, is urgently needed. It’s not just a case of opting in or out. The deal itself must have environmental integrity. As the measure will heavily rely on offsets (and to a lesser degree on biofuels), it must have strong and transparent rules to keep out those dodgy offsets (and biofuels) that don’t represent real emission reductions elsewhere, or that undermine sustainable development..

Like the Paris Agreement, this global measure will be a starting point–not the end game. The proposals on the table are a step forward, but they don’t get the aviation industry anywhere near a fair or sufficient contribution to our 1.5°C benchmark. This starting point will become a false start unless everyone pulls their weight. ECO asks every country to do their bit in Montreal!