Unfortunately, the EU’s aviation emissions pricing decision has run into trouble. China, the U.S. (including Obama), and some other countries have said that their airlines would not comply with the requirement. A court case was brought up in the EU, which the EU eventually won, but these opposing countries still said they wouldn’t comply.
The EU has decided to give everyone one extra year to come up with a plan to cut airline CO2 emissions (well, a proposal along these lines has been submitted to the European Commission, and is expected to be approved). Otherwise, it says that it is finally going to implement this policy. (Note that at least one study has found that airlines could actually profit from such a policy!)
To back up the EU, a recent study conducted by researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) in Britain has found that putting a price on airline CO2 emissions is the only way to adequately cut airline emissions.
Reuters writes: “Aviation pollution can only be stabilized by the middle of the century if a price is set on airline carbon emissions, research said, countering industry hopes that green goals can be met via technology improvements and biofuels.”
MMU is reportedly “a specialist in environmental and aviation research,” and it looked at various approaches to cutting emissions. Unfortunately, none of them turned out to be adequate… other than putting a price on the CO2 they emit (and, of course, an adequate price).
However, the researchers were also apt to note that a combination of all efforts would be useful.
“I think the simple message is that all measures are needed to reduce emissions. What we highlight is the potential gains from the MBM, which is the subject of so much political controversy at the moment,” said David Lee, a professor at MMU who led the research.
Here are some more details from Reuters:
In 2010, the ICAO provisionally agreed to work towards a global goal of “carbon-neutral growth” for aviation from 2020, while the European Union advocated a 10 percent reduction by 2020 compared with a 2004-2006 baseline.
With both those targets looking unachievable, the report explored likely growth to 2050. By then, EU road maps state carbon emissions from all sectors must fall by between 80 and 95 percent versus 1990 levels to limit global warming to 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit, the level scientists say is needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Assuming the EU’s ETS is extended to 2050, the report found it could deliver CO2 annual savings of up to 647 million tons by the middle of the century.
Based on scenarios of what kind of measures are agreed, it predicted total aviation emissions would rise to between 1,139 million tons and 3422 million of carbon dioxide by 2050 compared with 694 million in 2006.
Commission figures predict the EU ETS could save 70 million metric tons of CO2 a year by 2020, but global aviation emissions will still be around 70 percent higher in 2020 compared with 2005.