EU ETS aviation emissions

Airlines embrace carbon reductions, but fear the Trump administration might get in their way

America’s air carriers have signed on to an international agreement for carbon offsets and reduction, arguing it will prevent unilateral charges over their emissions at foreign airports. But the Trump administration, after pulling out of the Paris Agreement, is reviewing that decision, despite vocal support for it from US airlines.

The Carbon Offsets and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA, was signed on Oct. 6, 2016, at the UN. It currently has the voluntary support of more than 70 nations, representing nearly 90 percent of international airline activity.

“It was key to have an international body with 191 countries come together with a single plan for how to address aviation and environmental issues, exactly because we take off in one country and land in another,” says Nancy Young, vice president of environmental affairs with the trade group Airlines for America. “Having unilateral measures or a series of unilateral measures would be conflicting, duplicative and counterproductive.”

While the plan was agreed to by all 191 international civil aviation organization countries, for the first six years it’s an opt-in, voluntary system, Young explains. Seventy countries have signed on so far. After the first six years, it becomes mandatory, except for the least developed countries and those with very low levels of international aviation activity.

“The target we have set is to achieve carbon-neutral growth beyond 2020,” Young says. “That is why from the beginning, we supported having the United States in the first six years and then on into the mandatory period beyond that.”

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EU ETS aviation emissions