The aviation industry is now supporting a United Nations offer to limit pollution from international flights which currently accounts for about 2% of global greenhouse gases, even though the proposed measure could end up costing companies as much as $24bn annually. These gas emissions are currently forecast to triple by 2050.
Trade groups representing United Continental Holdings, Boeing and other industry leaders are encouraging all nations to join the agreement, which would require companies to offset their emissions growth by funding environmental initiatives.
Airlines will not be forced to cut their pollution but instead must compensate for any emissions growth after the Contract begins in 2020 by buying credits that back renewable energy development, forest preservation or other environmental measures. If their pollution must be controlled, airlines would prefer a single international standard, which would be far cheaper and easier than following a patchwork of local programs.
Michael Gill, Executive Director of the Air Transport Action Group, said: “We recognize that as an industry, we have an impact on climate change. The industry is willing to pay its share. We just want to pay our share in the most economic way possible.”
If the U.N.-sponsored deal fails, companies run the risk of facing even costlier regulation if Europe or others push ahead with regional plans.
Environmentalists also are pushing for the deal in Montreal, saying it’s a first step that can be improved. Yet some have criticized the proposal for depending on voluntary participation for the first six years and letting companies off easy with low costs of offsetting.
The agreement has gathered support from at least 60 nations responsible for most aviation emissions, including the U.S., China, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea and a majority of European countries. Yet in recent days China, which had previously expressed support for the accord, issued a joint proposal along with Russia and India pushing to change key elements of the proposal.
Brazil, with other fast growing countries has decided to wait until the deal becomes obligatory in 2027, disagreeing that the treaty will impose an unfair economic problem on developing countries.
Officials plan to finalize the agreement during the talks that began this week in Montreal, hosted by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization.