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Forests Can Play an Essential Role in Reducing Climate Change Impacts of Aviation

Today, leading international non-governmental organizations released a briefing paper, “Linking Flights and Forests,” which highlights the vital role forests can play in fighting climate change and recommends that countries include REDD+, a policy framework for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as a means for the international aviation sector to meet its commitments to cap and reduce its carbon pollution.

The briefing paper was released prior to a regional meeting in the Netherlands of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the UN body responsible for setting the standards for international flights. The meeting continues ICAO’s dialogues toward finalizing a global market-based measure (MBM) to assist the international aviation sector in achieving its agreed emission reduction targets which aim to cap international aviation emissions at 2020 levels and to deliver “carbon neutral growth from 2020.” If the international aviation industry were its own country, it would be among the top-ten emitters of carbon dioxide globally. Countries are currently developing the components of the MBM, including what types of activities should be eligible as offsets, and will finalize the MBM at the 39th ICAO Assembly in September-October 2016. Even with proposed operational and aircraft efficiency improvements, the increasing demand for air travel would leave the international aviation industry falling short of meeting its post-2020 emission reduction commitments with a gap of 7.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. In order to close that gap, the briefing paper concludes, ICAO should allow REDD+ as an eligible activity under the final MBM.

Rob Simmonds

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