190 Countries Adopt Plan to Offset Jet Emissions

2016-10-06 21:42:29


190 Countries Adopt Plan to Offset Jet Emissions

Governments from more than 190 countries on Thursday adopted a measure that for the first time will reduce the climate impact of international jet travel.

Under the plan, which was supported by the airline industry and approved by voice vote at a meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal, carriers will buy credits to offset emissions from individual flights. The credits will come from alternative energy installations, forest conservation programs and other projects that prevent some amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

But the measure, which will go into effect in 2021, will be voluntary for the first six years, and even countries that commit to it voluntarily will be allowed to opt out on relatively short notice.

At least 65 nations, including the United States, China and the European Union countries, have signaled that they will participate during the voluntary phases of the measure.

Leaders hailed the accord as a major step in reducing the environmental impact of international aviation, which is responsible for about 2 percent of worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases.

Secretary of State John Kerry called the agreement “unprecedented” and said it built on the global climate deal reached in Paris last year and other international efforts to reduce emissions.

“This measure addresses a growing source of global emissions, demonstrates the international community’s strong and growing support for climate action in all areas and helps avoid a patchwork of potentially costly and overlapping regional and national measures,” Mr. Kerry said in a statement.

Violeta Bulc, transport commissioner of the European Commission, said in a statement that the agreement “opens a new chapter in international aviation, where sustainability finally becomes part of the way we fly.”

Some environmental groups said the measure did not go far enough. An analysis by the International Council for Clean Transportation showed that the agreement as approved would offset only about three-quarters of the growth in emissions from international aviation above 2020 levels. That means the proposal falls short of the goal originally set by the International Civil Aviation Organization of “carbon-neutral” growth after 2020.

Daniel Rutherford, aviation director for the International Council on Clean Transportation, said the measure did not address the core problem of aviation emissions. “In the long run, airlines need to decarbonize, not to pay others to do it for them,” he said.

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