Executive Briefings

Pollution Accord Is Set for Global Flights, But Tasks Remain

The great and the good of world aviation gathered in Montreal last month to do something that seemed impossible even a couple of years ago. They agreed to cap greenhouse gas emissions from international flights. The pact - the first climate change agreement to apply worldwide to a specific sector, one that produces the equivalent annual carbon dioxide output as that of Germany - was greeted with almost universal support.

John Kerry, secretary of state of the United States, called the aviation deal "unprecedented." Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, council president of the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations body that will oversee the agreement, acknowledged negotiations had been tough, but added that almost all nations now had a "practical agreement and consensus on this issue."

Despite the backslapping, much still needs to be resolved before the 15-year aviation accord comes into force beginning in 2021. The first six years of the deal will be voluntary.

Carriers including Delta Air Lines and Air China are expected to eke out some climate change reductions by making their aircraft fleets more efficient and increasing their use of biofuels.

But most of the industry's focus will fall on a complicated offsetting system, in which airlines buy credits from climate change projects, like renewable energy programs often in the developing world, to counterbalance their own carbon emissions.

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John Kerry, secretary of state of the United States, called the aviation deal "unprecedented." Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, council president of the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations body that will oversee the agreement, acknowledged negotiations had been tough, but added that almost all nations now had a "practical agreement and consensus on this issue."

Despite the backslapping, much still needs to be resolved before the 15-year aviation accord comes into force beginning in 2021. The first six years of the deal will be voluntary.

Carriers including Delta Air Lines and Air China are expected to eke out some climate change reductions by making their aircraft fleets more efficient and increasing their use of biofuels.

But most of the industry's focus will fall on a complicated offsetting system, in which airlines buy credits from climate change projects, like renewable energy programs often in the developing world, to counterbalance their own carbon emissions.

Read Full Article