New scientific analysis released today on the impacts of the aviation industry on our climate should give pause to government and industry leaders.
The report, produced by the Manchester Metropolitan University's Centre for Air Transport and Environment, titled "Mitigating future aviation CO2 emissions -- timing is everything" finds that a new market-based carbon trading system for the airline industry cannot be delayed any longer.
This new analysis comes at a very crucial moment, as the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) meets this September to decide on whether to delay a market-based trading system (again) or begin implementation as soon as possible. If a decision to implement is not reached at the ICAO meetings in September, the next opportunity for a decision will not be until 2016 at the next general ICAO assembly.
A further delay is not an option according to the report's authors. Their modeling shows that all the efforts already underway by airlines to reduce their emissions are not enough and that global market-based trading must also be implemented as soon as possible. If a decision is put off again by ICAO to 2016, we lose the cumulative financial and environmental benefits that are necessary to meet the aviation industry's future emissions reduction targets.
Three more years of delay means three more years of massive amounts of pollution being pumped into our atmosphere as airlines whisk more passengers than ever around the world.
One would think, with the worldwide impacts of climate change and atmospheric disruption we are already witnessing, that the aviation industry would feel a sense of urgency at putting in place a global reduction plan. After all, the estimated impact of the aviation industry on climate change so far is a whopping 5 percent.
So far, American airline companies have been a proverbial fly in the ointment when it comes to seeing a global market-based trading system. Last year, the industry went so far as to seek (and receive) federal legislation that would exempt them from a market-based system in the European Union. U.S. airlines do not want to pay a fee for the pollution they are responsible for and have spent millions on lobbyists in Washington, DC to avoid a tax on the carbon they emit.
Regardless of past indiscretions, this new report should serve as a wake up call to ICAO, the U.S. government and the U.S. airline industry. If they don't listen, it is not just the airlines that will suffer in the long term.