Meeting in Canada the first week of this month at the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization meeting, world governments adopted an International Aviation Climate Change Agreement. The agreement is a global market-based measure limiting the net carbon dioxide emissions of aircraft. The aviation industry produces 2% of global greenhouse emissions. ClimateNexus reports that aviation emissions are projected to consume approximately a quarter of the world’s remaining carbon budget by 2050.
The agreement, backed early by the US and China, will involve the world’s first carbon offset scheme for any global sector. It has the firm backing of the aviation industry, which first proposed the measure in 2009. CleanTechnica has been reporting these developments as they occurred.
Over 80% of the total growth in atmospheric carbon dioxide from aviation after 2020 will be covered. This amounts to 2.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions or the equivalent of over 700 coal-fired power plants. 65 nations have committed to joining the carbon offset and reduction scheme for international aviation (called CORSIA) when it takes effect in 2021.
India is passing on the voluntary phase of the global market-based measure, fearing it will increase costs for developing countries and mask culpability of the industrialized nations. However, the numbers of subscribers will likely increase as more countries choose to join the alliance.
Says Michael Gill, Executive Director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group, about the historic nature of the new agreement:
“The industry took an unprecedented step to ask for a global measure to deal with the growth in aviation carbon dioxide emissions from 2020 onwards. What was a visionary approach seven years ago [when these efforts began] has today become a reality. We thank the government negotiators who have worked so hard to deliver a scheme which will successfully balance the growth in air transport and all of the economic and social connectivity benefits that it brings, with the need to address CO2 emissions from the sector.”
Although the new deal is very useful, ClimateNexus tells us that “further ambition is necessary in order to meet ICAO’s own target of carbon-neutral growth from 2020.”
The aviation industry is also taking various other steps to reduce its carbon emissions. It’s investing in new technology, scaling up use of sustainable alternative fuels, improving operational performance of existing aircraft, and installing more efficient infrastructure.