Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Climate change: A false offer

As the demand for real action on climate change grows, pressure has gone on the airline industry - one of the world's fastest growing emitters, but currently unregulated under the Kyoto Protocol - to cut its emissions. And in just a few years, they'll start being forced to: in 2012, it will be forced into the EU ETS for all internal European travel.

The industry has responded with a dramatic offer to cut emissions by 50% from 1990 levels by 2050. It sounds impressive, but its simply a dodge to avoid real action. Why? Firstly, this is far less than the 80 - 95% cuts recommended by the IPCC. And secondly, this would replace a binding legal commitment with a non-binding one. Instead of being brought into the EU ETS or have their emissions counted under Kyoto II (which would in turn result in them being increasingly covered by domestic policy), they simply promise to buy offsets. And if they don't, or they fiddle their numbers? That's just a public relations problem. In other words, its just another attempt at the "self-regulation" scam so popular with industry and so ineffectual in practice.

The global climate is simply too important to have any patience for such scams. If we want the airline industry to reduce its emissions, it must be brought under Kyoto II and subject to legally binding targets, just like everyone else.