In a show of support for the United Nations proposal to curb climate change, 60 countries around the world and several major airline companies are planning to offset their carbon emissions by funding environmental initiatives.
The United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is meeting in Montreal, Canada this week to discuss market based measures, and how to achieve the possible strategies for reducing the impact of carbon emissions caused by air travel.
In fact, if the airline industry were a country, it would rank as one of the top ten carbon dioxide polluters in the world, according to the Huffington Post. Because of the ongoing increase in air travel, the amount of carbon emissions is expected to triple or even quadruple by the year 2040.
Limiting the amount of pollution created by air travel may end up costing air line corporations $24 billion annually, which underlines the significance of the commitment made under the UN proposal.
“We recognize that as an industry, we have an impact on climate change. The industry is willing to pay its share. We just want to pay our share in the most economic way possible,” said Michael Gill (pictured above), Executive Director of the Air Transport Action Group.
The industry has pledged to cap carbon emissions to levels reached in 2020, but using technological advancements might not be enough to maintain this goal. The UN agreement would also require companies to offset their carbon emissions by funding environmental initiatives, such as contributing to developing countries’ efforts to protect their forests. The World Bank has recently allocated 28% of their investments to help fight against the effects of climate change in developing countries who are hit the hardest.
According to Huffington Post, between one-third and one-quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions are stored in the forests of the world, while a fifth of all carbon dioxide released each year from the burning of fossil fuels is absorbed by tropical forests.
European Union Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc concluded that, “This will be the first-ever global carbon-reduction deal for a single industry. I hope that we can encourage other sectors to follow. It is a critical time for action.”
According to Bloomberg, if this UN-sponsored deal fails, airline companies could potentially face even costlier regulation, because Europe and other regions would most likely push ahead with their own carbon emission regulations, which would create a patchwork of local regulations across the globe. So agreeing to the UN guidelines as currently discussed would be smart business and help environmental causes — a win win.