Aviation Industry Cutting CO2 Emissions
International aviation has sealed its first ever deal for reducing greenhouse gases. Starting in 2020, any rise in airline carbon emissions will be balanced with sustainable activities such as planting trees to absorb the excess carbon dioxide.
The deal was secured during a very significant week for climate policy, as Paris’ agreement to stabilise climate change passed a key stage and became closer to becoming law.
The worldwide emissions released by aviation are equivalent to those produced by the whole of Germany, and are still increasing. It is predicted that by 2050, worldwide aviation will consume around one quarter of the world’s remaining carbon budget.
Will International Aviation go Carbon Neutral by 2020?
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) previously agreed the deal to cut emissions and promised carbon neutral aviation growth throughout the 2020s. Their intention was to coordinate the ambitions of airlines with the Paris agreement and limit warming to 1.5℃ to 2℃.
However, those plans were either dropped or diluted last minute and a compromise was agreed instead – emissions are allowed to increase until 2020, but after that, emissions will need to be offset.
International aviation is accountable for emitting higher levels of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, and until now, there has been no global plan to address the high levels of carbon emissions caused by aviation.
The proposal to balance emissions is very controversial and airlines are aiming to make planes more efficient. However, the industry are unable to innovate quickly enough to contain its dynamic growth.
This led the aviation industry to construct an offsetting proposal, but planting trees, for example, duplicates efforts already being made and often seen as prone to double-counting. Along with this, the deal has no clear rules or regulations for offsetting.
The Aviation Environment Federation has stated that the UK needs to go beyond this agreement if they want to reach the reduction in emissions target of 57% by 2030.
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