Airline Emissions Are The Next Target Of Environmentalists

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Environmentalists are scrutinizing emission standards in the aviation industry after a report from the group that exposed Volkswagen found that airline emissions are well above industry norms.

British Airways and Lufthansa were found to be emitting 51 percent more carbon dioxide than other airlines in the industry, according to a report from the International Council on Clean Transportation. The group’s findings reignited support within the European Union to include aviation in their emissions trading system that already regulates carbon emissions in the auto industry, reports Reuters. Airlines currently are not required to limit or reduce their CO2 output. A measure to include airlines under the regulatory umbrella of the EU was shot down two years ago.

The Volkswagen scandal renewed interest about emissions in the transportation sector, particularly aviation, which released 750 million tons of CO2 in 2013, a figure that is set to triple by 2050. A study conducted by the European Parliament leaked to The Guardian shows that by 2050, aviation and shipping are expected to make up 39 percent of global CO2 emissions.

“Clearly this would derail the efforts in Paris to stay within two degrees’ warming,” said Sotiris Raptis, a shipping policy officer at Transport & Environment. “Any deal in Paris must lead to an emissions reduction target for aviation and shipping, like all other sectors of the global economy.”

The report, which will be filed with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), found that Norwegian Air Shuttle, Air Berlin, KLM and Aer Lingus released the fewest emissions among the airlines. United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines joined British Airlines and Lufthansa as the worst performers, reports The Guardian. Dean Rutherford, an author of the report, said fixing seating arrangements for maximum fuel efficiency and investing in updated technology can go a long way in bringing down CO2 emissions.

“There is a large and underestimated potential for in-sector CO2 emission reductions,” the report says. “This highlights the role for additional policies to limit aviation emissions, notably the CO2 standard being developed by the ICAO and a global market-based measure to price aviation carbon.”

The differential of emissions between the airlines increased from 2014 levels, reflecting the lack of a uniform policy governing the aviation industry. An earlier effort to block discussion of airline emissions at the climate summit was shut down, according to The Guardian. Emissions from the aviation and shipping industries is one of many key areas of discussion and will be a focus of global leaders going to Paris in December.

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