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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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Airline industry takes step toward carbon-neutral future

Industry trade group touts global market-based carbon cap

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The airline industry is seeking a path toward carbon-neutral growth. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — The commercial aviation industry is moving closer to adopting a carbon-neutral growth strategy, as the International Air Transport Association last week endorsed the idea of a a single global cap on emissions of international flights to take effect in 2020.

“Airlines are committed to working with governments to build a solid platform for the future sustainable development of aviation,” IATA’s director general and CEO Tony Tyler said after the trade group endorsed a resolution that could lead toward establishment of a market-based mechanism to achieve carbon-neutral growth starting in 2020. Continue reading

Obama signs anti-environmental airline measure

The debate about controlling airline emissions rages on.

Conservation groups pin hopes on global airline emissions deal

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Obama administration may be talking the talk on climate change, but it’s not clear if the president is ready to walk the walk — especially after signing into law a bill that was partly driven by Jim Inhofe, the U.S. Senate’s most infamous global warming denier.

The new law gives federal officials the ability to prevent U.S. airlines from complying with European Union airline emissions regulations — rules that have been suspended for a year while the International Civil Aviation Organization  tries to develop a global mechanism for controlling airline emissions.

Obama’s signature of the measure drew a mixed response, with some groups panning the president for his actions, while others said they are hopeful that the U.S. will help lead the aviation community to a solution. Continue reading

EU ‘stops the clock’ on airline emissions regulations

The world community once again will try to find a way to limit airline greenhouse gas emissions.

Hopes are high for a global agreement

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — In a move that was emblematic of this congressional session’s futility, the House Tuesday passed an unprecedented bill that would give the executive branch the power to ban airlines from complying with recognized international law — the only problem is, the law that it’s aimed at has already been temporarily suspended for a year.

At issue are European Union regulations regarding airline carbon emissions. The EU rules are aimed at reducing heat-trapping greenhouse gases, but have been put on hold for flights to and from the EU pending the outcome of talks aimed at developing a global plan for the airline industry, which, for the most part, has been kicking and screaming all the way to the table.

The EU rules added a few dollars to the cost of a transatlantic flight, hardly a financial burden, but U.S. airlines whined and lobbied Congress for relief rather than working proactively to address the problem. The EU announced its decision in this press conference (video), saying it wanted to contribute to “positive climate” surrounding the new international talks. 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.”

Lawsuit pushes EPA to regulate airplane emissions

Environmental groups want the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes.

Environmental groups want agency to set a timeline for action on airplane greenhouse gas emissions

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The EPA is dragging its feet on controlling greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes, the Environmental Defense Fund said this week, reinforcing arguments made in court by a coalition of groups seeking to establish a timeline for EPA action.

The hearing in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia is part of a 2010 lawsuit that charges the EPA with unreasonablly delaying action. The courts have already ruled that the EPA must act on airline emissions in response to a petition filed in 2007, but the agency doesn’t have a specific timeline it must follow, according EDF attorney Pamela Campos. Continue reading

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

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