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Global market based measures essential to close aviation’s emissions gap

A new study by leading atmospheric scientist Professor David Lee of Manchester Metropolitan University’s Centre for Air Transport and the Environment (CATE) shows the necessity of a global ‘market-based measure’ (MBM) to bridge the gap between international aviation’s growing emissions and the goal of no net increase in emissions from 2020, to which both the UN International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) and the aviation industry itself are committed. 

Reviewing the estimated future emission reductions from technology and operations, alternative fuels and regional market-based measures such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), the report concludes that their combined impact will be insufficient to meet this environmental goal: under a ‘middle of the road’ emissions growth scenario, an ‘emissions gap’ of 153 to 387 million tonnes CO2 (MtCO2) is forecast by 2050. An operational and effective world-wide market-based measure, such as an emissions trading system, could make up the difference in necessary CO2 reductions.

The report’s findings emphasise the importance of the carbon markets in tackling emissions: even at a regional level, in the absence of a global measure, the EU ETS if extended beyond 2020 to 2050 achieves the largest reduction of any measure analysed (producing savings of up to 587 MtCO2 per annum by 2050).

This new research comes just ahead of the March meetings of ICAO’s Council and its high-level advisory group on climate change which is charged with progressing discussions on a framework for MBMs, and options for a global MBM, in advance of ICAO’s triennial Assembly this September.

A copy of the report can be downloaded here.