ICAO Examining Four Climate Change Options

December 3, 2011

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The ICAO, the United Nations body that oversees civil aviation, is considering four main options to address greenhouse emissions from commercial jets, and has not yet made any decisions, a spokesman said.

The basic options are some form of emissions trading, fuel-based carbon levies, levies on departing passengers and cargo, and carbon offsetting, International Civil Aviation Organisation spokesman Denis Chagnon said in an email.

We can't give details now," he said, noting that the issue was the subject of a study to be discussed by ICAO's next meeting.

A trade conflict over the European Union's emissions trading scheme has pushed ICAO to accelerate its hunt for "market-based measures" to combat climate change. The Montreal-based organisation hopes to have a deal in place by the end of 2012.

Early last month, ICAO's governing council backed the United States, China and two dozen other nations urging the EU not to include non-EU carriers in its emissions trading scheme.

The EU proposal to put a price on pollution means airlines will have to buy permits to help offset emissions from jets operating in, to and from Europe from January 1.

The Republican-led US House of Representatives voted in October to ban US airline compliance with the scheme, raising the prospect that flights could be disrupted.

The EU has said it would exempt non-EU carriers provided they are subject to "equivalent measures" to reduce emissions. An ICAO-crafted international emissions regime might be considered an equivalent measure and could eventually resolve the conflict.