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Climate: Aviation industry eyes 2016 emissions cap

Contentious meeting ends with small step forward

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A passenger jet flies above the mountains of Greenland. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The international aviation community last week took another small step toward capping greenhouse gas emissions by agreeing to develop a global market-based measure to cap international aviation’s carbon pollution at 2020 levels.

The International Civil Aviation Organization agreed to finalize what will likely be a cap and trade emissions program by 2016 in a meeting that was marked by uncertainty until the very end, according to Environmental Defense Fund attorney Annie Petsonk, who has been watch-dogging the aviation industry.

According to the EDF, if aviation were a country, it would rank among the world’s top ten largest emitters, and it is one of the fastest growing sources of global warming pollution. Continue reading

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Pacific Coast region eyes new carbon policy

Oregon, Washington and British Columbia all support carbon pricing

New carbon policies on the West Coast could help push the rest of the country toward a more realistic stance on carbon pricing. Photo courtesy NASA.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The U.S. as a whole may still be a few years away from being ready to enact a carbon tax, but that isn’t stopping the Pacific Coast Collaborative from moving ahead with new ways of addressing the true cost of fossil fuels and accounting for the environmental impacts associated with using fossil fuels that are detrimental to the health and well-being of our communities — and future generations. 

For the first time, the Governors of California, Oregon and Washington, and the Premier of British Columbia, have collectively voiced support for pricing carbon, with a joint announcement coming just as California holds the first auction of its cap and trade program. Continue reading

Congress tries to thwart EU action on airline emissions

U.S. airlines don’t want to play by EU rules, and Congress has their back.

Bill would allow U.S. airlines to disobey duly passed carbon cap regulations

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Congress didn’t accomplish much the past few months, but in one of its last acts before recessing for the upcoming campaign season, the U.S. Senate did manage to throw a monkey wrench into European Union plans to try and cap greenhouse gas emissions from passenger jets.

That’s symbolic for a Congress that has been focused primarily on obstruction for the past two years, and shows how U.S. politicians are out of touch with the global move to try and tackle global warming. That’s probably why the bill was was passed under cover of the night — at 2 a.m. Saturday, to be exact, when nobody was looking. Continue reading

Climate: Airline carbon politics heating up again

American airlines could be banned from participating in a carbon reduction program under a new law passed by the Senate commerce committee.

Senate committee passes bill that could block U.S. airlines from joining an EU carbon-reduction plan

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — While much of the world is trying to find ways to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from the commercial air travel, U.S. politicians seen intent on trying to stymy progress in the airline sector.

The Senate Commerce Committee this week passed a bill (S.1956) that would give the U.S. secretary of transportation authority to ban U.S. airlines from participating in the European Union’s Emissions Trading System if he thinks it serves the public interest. The bill does not ban  U.S. airlines from participating in the EU system.

“Passage of this disappointing and short-sighted bill today seems only to decrease the odds of action at the international level by calling into question the status of the one lever that actually moved the International Civil Air Organizationto have serious discussions after 15 years of inaction – the EU Emissions Trading System,” said Annie Petsonk, international counsel for Environmental Defense Fund.

“This bill now ups the pressure on the Obama administration to produce a solution at ICAO. We are happy to see the text at least encouraged international negotiations at ICAO, which we believe hold the key to a global agreement to reduce aviation emissions.

“Legislation that blocks American companies from obeying the laws of the countries in which they do business is almost unprecedented in U.S. history, showing up most recently when Congress barred American firms from suborning apartheid in South Africa,” Petsonk said. “How disconcerting that airlines, which are spending significant funds touting their environmental friendliness, are acting as though an anti-pollution law is as grievous as a massive human rights violation.”

Battle over EU’s carbon cap for airlines heats up

Airline carbon emissions will be discussed at a meeting in Moscow next week.

NGO’s urge U.S. government not to cave to industry pressure

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The political war over the European Union’s carbon cap-and-trade plan for airlines is set to continue next week in Moscow at an international trade conference.

U.S. airlines unhappy with the plan have been pressuring lawmakers and the Obama administration to reject the plan, even though its been found consistent with international law by the European Supreme Court. Continue reading

Commentary: Carbon tax needed to curb CO2 emissions

A map from the United Nations Environmental Programme shows relative CO2 production worldwide.

Leading climate economist argues that carbon tax would reflect true cost of global warming impacts

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The oft-discussed cap and trade model for limiting carbon greenhouse gas emissions is inefficient and ineffective, according to Yale climate economist William Nordhaus, who last week advocated for supplementing or replacing cap-and-trade with a flat carbon tax that reflects the true environmental and societal costs of global warming.

Writing in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Nordhaus describes carbon dioxide emissions externalities, with social consequences not accounted for in the market place. They are market failures because people do not pay for the current and future costs of their emissions, he wrote. A carbon tax could be a useful means to cut budget deficits while meeting environmental objectives, he said. Continue reading

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