A recent study suggests that the only way to reduce aviation pollution would be to set a price on airline carbon emissions. This statement goes opposite to common beliefs that emission targets would be reached by improvements in technology and biofuels.
The European Union tried to introduce carbon taxes to airlines, which use EU airports, however the strong reaction against this legislation, made officials postpone its implementation for flights outside EU. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) under the U.N, is already working on the alternative solution to carbon emissions. They are meeting later on this month to agree on a world-wide action plan.
David Lee, a professor and a specialist in environmental and aviation research at Manchester Metropolitan University published his findings on Monday. He examined all international proposals including the use of alternative biofuels, improvements in technology and change in landing and take off procedures. The results indicate that to achieve reduction in carbon emissions, the only solution is to impose a tax, as suggested by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. According to the professor, the measures that need to be implemented are quite simple.
Lee has been a part of a research specialist group for the ICAO and a technical advisor to the UK’s Department for Transport on aviation, climate and air quality issues.
ICAO and the European Union. have already set targets back in 2010. ICAO aims at “carbon-neutral growth”, while the EU advocated a 10% decrease in carbon emissions by 2020.
The study however states that these targets could be achieved by 2050 the earliest. The EU plans to have nearly 95% reduction in carbon emissions compared to the levels in 1990 and to limit the global temperatures to 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
The research included a number of scenarios, which change according to different preventive measures. Raise in total aviation emissions were predicted to reach 3422 million of carbon dioxide by 2050 compared with 964 million in 2006, if the EU’s ETS is extended to 2050.
According to the EU Commission, ETS could save about 70 million metric tones of CO2 per year by 2020, however on a global scale the emissions will still raise with 70% compared to figures from 2005. .
Kyoto Protocol, which was signed as a measure against climate change does not cover aviation and shipping. The EU has frozen the carbon tax on external flights, however internal EU flights pay for their emissions. The EU officials are certain that the tax will be reimposed as early as April for all flights if the ICAO does not reach a global agreement.
The U.S was excluded from the calculations when emissions were estimated because according to a paper, one of the world’s biggest emitters is planning to apply an airspace-based approach.