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Airline Industry To Halve Carbon Emissions by 2050

The global aviation industry plans to cut its 2005 carbon emissions in half by 2050 and stabilize emissions to the point that it only has carbon-neutral growth starting in 2020, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The group presented those goals and additional recommendations on how airline emissions should be regulated at the UN Secretary General's Summit on Climate Change in New York this week. The proposals are being put forth ahead of the December meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Copenhagen.

The IATA proposes that the aviation industry should account for its emissions globally and, when it comes to emissions reductions goals, aviation should be treated as a sector separate from any individual country, mainly due to the fact that a single flight's emissions can occur in multiple countries and over the open seas.

When the Kyoto Protocol was created 12 years ago, international aviation emissions were not included, and were instead left under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The IATA would like to see that approach continue in whatever agreement comes out of the Copenhagen talks. It would also like to see revenues from emissions trading and other measures go towards developing fuel efficient aircraft and sustainable biofuels.

The aviation industry, which accounts for an estimated 2-3 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, also plans to improve its carbon efficiency by 1.5 percent annually through 2020, and then experience only carbon-neutral growth from there on out.

This year, the industry expects its emissions to go down 7 percent, 5 percent of which the IATA attributes to the economic recession and 2 percent of which it attributes to the industry's multiple-prong strategy of technology investment, efficient infrastructure, effective operations like shortening flight paths, and positive economic measures to reduce emissions.

Plane engine - / CC BY 2.0

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