New Report Finds Climate Can't Wait for More Delays on Aviation Industry Emissions Action

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New scientific analysis released today on the impacts of the aviation industry on our climate should give pause to government and industry leaders.

The report, produced by the Manchester Metropolitan University’s Centre for Air Transport and Environment, titled “Mitigating future aviation CO2 emissions – timing is everything” finds that a new market-based carbon trading system for the airline industry cannot be delayed any longer. 

This new analysis comes at a very crucial moment, as the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) meets this September to decide on whether to delay a market-based trading system (again) or begin implementation as soon as possible. If a decision to implement is not reached at the ICAO meetings in September, the next opportunity for a decision will not be until 2016 at the next general ICAO assembly. 

A further delay is not an option according to the report’s authors. Their modeling shows that all the efforts already underway by airlines to reduce their emissions are not enough and that global market-based trading must also be implemented as soon as possible. If a decision is put off again by ICAO to 2016, we lose the cumulative financial and environmental benefits that are necessary to meet the aviation industry’s future emissions reduction targets. 

Three more years of delay means three more years of massive amounts of pollution being pumped into our atmosphere as airlines whisk more passengers than ever around the world. 

One would think, with the worldwide impacts of climate change and atmospheric disruption we are already witnessing, that the aviation industry would feel a sense of urgency at putting in place a global reduction plan. After all, the estimated impact of the aviation industry on climate change so far is a whopping 5%. 

So far, American airline companies have been a proverbial fly in the ointment when it comes to seeing a global market-based trading system. Last year, the industry went so far as to seek (and receive) federal legislation that would exempt them from a market-based system in the European Union. US airlines do not want to pay a fee for the pollution they are responsible for and have spent millions on lobbyists in Washington, DC to avoid a tax on the carbon they emit. 

Regardless of past indiscretions, this new report should serve as a wake up call to ICAO, the US government and the US airline industry. If they don’t listen, it is not just the airlines that will suffer in the long term.

Image credit: airplane exhaust on Shutterstock 

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Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmog. He runs the digital marketing agency Spake Media House. Named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the “Top 50 Tweeters” on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning. Kevin has been involved in the public policy arena in both the United States and Canada for more than a decade. For five years he was the managing editor of DeSmogBlog.com. In this role, Kevin’s research into the “climate denial industry” and the right-wing think tank networks was featured in news media articles around the world. He is most well known for his ground-breaking research into David and Charles Koch’s massive financial investments in the Republican and tea party networks. Kevin is the first person to be designated a “Certified Expert” on the political and community organizing platform NationBuilder. Prior to DeSmog, Kevin worked in various political and government roles. He was Senior Advisor to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Asia Pacific, Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada. Kevin also worked in various roles in the British Columbia provincial government in the Office of the Premier and the Ministry of Health. In 2008 Kevin co-founded a groundbreaking new online election tool called Vote for Environment which was later nominated for a World Summit Award in recognition of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications. Kevin moved to Washington, DC in 2010 where he worked for two years as the Director of Online Strategy for Greenpeace USA and has since returned to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

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