Members present at the 38th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization will vote today on a global plan to tamp down and police airplane emissions.
Assembled parties have been debating the issue during the event, which ends today, weighing the options on the table and formulating a sufficient policy that will satisfy EU regulators, who tried to address the issue with an emissions-trading scheme that was thoroughly rejected by governments around the world.
ICAO’s current agreement would lay out a global limit on the industry’s carbon footprint starting in 2016 and provides a number of guidelines until then to make sure the aviation industry stays on track.
The Environmental Defense Fund has commended ICAO on agreeing on placing a limit on carbon, but said individual countries should be able to put their own caps on emissions in the meantime, something ICAO won’t be including in the final agreement.
“On one hand, ICAO has opened a door to the possibility of a future global cap on these emissions and an array of programs – including a market-based measure sought by both the industry and the environmental community – to ensure that the cap is met,” EDF International Counsel Annie Petsonk said in a statement. “But a bedrock principle of international law is that nations have the sovereign right to limit pollution emitted in their borders. So ICAO took half a step backward with its attempt to narrow the ambit for countries to implement their own market-based measures to cap and cut the burgeoning global warming pollution from international aviation.”
Petsonk put the onus on the U.S. government to pave the way forward in this regard, making sure the industry sticks to its plan and moves toward a firm cap on emissions.