Airline group presents UN climate negotiators with aviation emission reduction scenarios and targets
Tue 9 Jun 2009 – The Aviation Global Deal (AGD) Group is today hosting a side event at the UN negotiating sessions in Bonn to present its updated vision of how international aviation emissions should be dealt with under a new post-2012 global deal on climate change. The Group will set out a range of three emission reduction scenarios and targets for UN negotiators to consider in the medium-term period to 2020, together with a long-term target to reduce net CO2 emissions by between 50 and 80 percent by 2050 compared to 2005. It proposes a sectoral approach with a global emissions trading scheme administered by a UN body in which revenues from the auctioning of allowances are hypothecated for climate change initiatives in developing countries. Meanwhile, a seventh airline, Virgin Blue, has now joined the Group.
The proposed global sectoral framework would cover all international civil air transport providers from 2013, whether from developed or developing countries, in order to ensure equal treatment in international aviation markets and avoid competitive distortions.
The three scenarios consider a carbon-neutral growth target, a 5% reduction and a 20% reduction in emissions by 2020, using 2005 as the base year and estimated future carbon prices. The Group says the targets were chosen to reflect the range of government, industry and NGO views regarding the role international aviation should play in helping to address global climate change. Under all scenarios, airlines would be active participants in international carbon markets in order to meet their emission targets the most cost-effectively.
Revenues generated from the auctioning of CO2 allowances would be collected by the UN authority, either new or existing, charged with administering the aviation-specific scheme – which could also be expanded to include shipping – and used for climate change initiatives in developing countries. The AGD says this would satisfy the UNFCCC principle of common but differentiated responsibility. Based on the scenarios, it estimates auction revenues of between $1.5 and $5 billion per year could be generated to support activities such as climate adaptation programmes and initiatives to combat tropical deforestation. There are no specific proposals as yet on the percentage of allowances to be auctioned.
AGD proposes that some of the auction revenue should also be used for a contestable R&D fund to finance “innovative and paradigm shifting” low-carbon technologies for aviation. Other uses would include seed funding for sustainable biofuel feedstock cultivation and biojet refining in developing countries.
The Group has presented for consideration by UN negotiators a draft text on international aviation for inclusion in a possible Copenhagen agreement. In line with its proposals, the text suggests a range of possible emissions targets and calls for a global sectoral agreement, developed through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and designed to ensure equal treatment of airlines and avoid carbon leakage.
The AGD Group – which comprises Air France-KLM, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Qatar Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Blue and BAA – is represented at the Bonn event by co-member The Climate Group. The international NGO’s Policy Director, Mark Kenber, said: “The AGD approach reflects a business perspective on what is necessary to deliver a fair and equitable outcome for airlines, informed by an understanding of the political realities of the international climate change negotiations. The AGD proposal would ensure a robust environmental outcome, achieved at the lowest cost, while generating important financial flows for addressing climate change in developing countries. This is a solution that works for the environment, the aviation industry and, critically, the international climate negotiations.”
The Virgin Blue Group – which comprises Australian domestic carrier Virgin Blue, New Zealand-based Pacific Blue and Samoa-based Polynesian Blue – last week became the first operator in the region to join the AGD Group.
“Already we are pursuing initiatives across a wide range of our operations to offset the impact of our emissions and to limit emissions at source,” said Brett Godfrey, Chief Executive of Virgin Blue Airlines. “We believe there is a limit to what individual airlines can achieve and it makes sense to work together globally with like-minded organizations to seek a uniform and integrated approach to international policy on aviation’s contribution to climate change.
“Aviation is a global cross-border industry. The last thing we need is a patchwork of national policies imposing conflicting or contradictory requirements on airlines.”