March 5, 2013 - EurActiv - Airlines will
only approach the International Civil Aviation Organization
(ICAO)'s goal of 'carbon neutral growth' from 2020 with a global
market-based measure such as an emission trading system (ETS), says
a new study by a leading atmospheric scientist.
The report, 'Bridging the aviation
CO2 emissions gap: why emissions trading is needed'
Lee of Manchester Metropolitan University explored three
different scenarios for cutting emissions: improved technology,
accelerated development of biofuels, and the application of carbon
It found that by 2050, improved technology would raise carbon
emissions to 1,638 billion tonnes of carbon per year (from 391
million tones in 2006), while greater use of biofuels would cut
emissions by just 5%. Carbon pricing was the only option that would
erase the 'emissions gap'.
"Given that the current regional MBMs extended to 2050 achieved
the single largest [emissions] reduction, an operational and
effective global scheme would evidently achieve even greater
reductions," Professor Lee concluded. MBMs refer to market-based
Lee is an advisor to the UK government, a researcher for the
UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a former
specialist researcher for ICAO, and the principal scientist and
head of atmospheric processes for the G7.
The paper comes as high level ICAO talks on a global
agreement to tackle airlines emissions appear stuck on the runway,
despite an EU decision to "stop the clock"on including
aviation within its ETS for a year. (See GLOBE-Net
article "US airlines
protected from EU's carbon scheme"
This month, ICAO's Council and High-Level Advisory Group on
International Aviation and Climate Change will be meeting to devise
a resolution for addressing global emissions that can be put to the
body's triennial assembly in September.
ICAO's advisory group is debating measures such as: a global
target, an implementation date, the emissions trading or carbon
offsetting nature of any scheme, how revenues raised should be
spent, and responsibilities allocated.
Groans by greens
But little progress has yet been made, with
a recent US proposal to exclude time spent flying over
international waters eliciting groans from environmentalists.
The US idea would only cover around a quarter of aviation
emissions and falls far short of the EU's plan which obliged all
airlines to pay a carbon fee for the entire fight if arriving or
departing from EU airports.
Meanwhile, the airline industry continues to fly the standard of
biofuels plus improved technology and operational improvements,
with market mechanisms only constituting a "temporary gap-filling
"We fully expect that technology, operations and infrastructure
measures alone will provide the long-term solution for aviation's
sustainable growth," Tony Tyler, chief executive of the International
Air Transport Association, said on 26 February.
The ICAO meeting this month is supposed to be considering three
market-based measures: carbon offsetting, carbon offsetting with a
revenue-generating component, and a fully global ETS.
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