Aviation industrys offset plans distracts from urgent need to reduce emissions, say environmental NGOs

Aviation industrys offset plans distracts from urgent need to reduce emissions, say environmental NGOs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organisation — ICAO, the United Nations’ specialised aviation agency — gather in Utrecht to discuss ways to ‘offset’ emissions from the airline industry, 79 environmental NGOs from five continents are demanding that it adopts a serious plan to reduce emissions.

At its assembly in September 2016, the ICAO plans to adopt measures to achieve “carbon-neutral growth” from 2020. It proposes to achieve this through carbon offsetting via a global market based mechanism. The statement says plans to offset a significant portion of the sector’s emissions through the GMBM are a significant distraction from the real measures that need to be taken to reduce aviation emissions.

Aviation is one of only two sectors worldwide with no targets to reduce emissions. Under business-as-usual, aviation is projected to increase emissions by between 300 and 700 per cent by 2050, despite only being used by 3-7 per cent of the world’s population.

The meeting in Utrecht on 4 and 5 April is part of ICAO’s Global Aviation Dialogue to consult members on the design of the GMBM.

Monika Lege from Robin Wood, a signatory of the statement, says, “The proposal to offset emissions to achieve Carbon Neutral Growth is unsuitable. German NGOs are instead proposing a global tax on CO2 equivalents that should be introduced globally.”

Since particular interest is being paid to land- and forest-based offsets, the statement emphasizes that forests and land do not offset continued fossil fuel emissions. Hannah Mowat, land and climate campaigner from Fern, says, “ICAO’s own standards rule forests and land offsets out from the start, because they need to be permanent emissions reductions, which is impossible to prove for forests because the removals are reversible.”

Furthermore, ICAO’s standards preclude double-counting of offset credits, particularly difficult where forests are concerned as these are typically already included in national greenhouse gas balance sheets, through countries’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. ICAO standards also require offsets to’‘do no harm.’ Given the countless stories of social conflict due to people being denied access to their land and restricting their traditional use of forests, airlines must think twice about the likely damage to communities — and hence their reputation.

“While the aviation industry dithers, the pace of climate change quickens,” adds Isaac Rojas from Friends of the Earth International. “With only six years left until our cumulative emissions put the 1.5-degree temperature target out of reach, proposing to offset emissions is risible. There is real urgency to reduce emissions.”


Contact: Marcie Keever, (510) 900-3144, [email protected]

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