December 2 – Ready for take-off

Just a few generations ago, many, if not most, people around the world lived their entire lives within a few miles from where they were born. I saw the other day a news clip of a 100-year old woman from the American Midwest making her first trip to the beach. Today, it’s possible to be anywhere in the world with little to no planning, and equally minimal effort. If you are like me and fly frequently, it can sometimes be easy to forget the incredible amount of thought, engineering and ingenuity that has gone into the modern aviation industry; I sometimes catch myself wondering what my great-grandfather would have said had he seen a 747. Too often we forget that aviation is exciting.

This morning, I got to rekindle some of that excitement without even heading to an airport, as I sat alongside Michael Gill (Air Transport Action Group), Alex Hanafi (Environmental Defense Fund) and Dirk Forrister (IETA) discussing how to best address GHG emissions from the aviation sector. The excitement came from the fact that the aviation sector is developing a market-based mechanism (MBM). There are some difficult questions, such as how to reconcile the underlying principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) at the core of the UNFCCC with the core principle of no discrimination that underlies the aviation sector.

I am hopeful that these kinds of issues can be resolved, and when they are, that the question about which offsets to accept into the system will be much more straightforward. Indeed, already there are existing frameworks that could be used to generate the diversity and volume of reductions the aviation sector will need to meet its goal of achieving carbon-neutral growth starting in 2020. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, and a quick look at the list of events here in Lima will highlight the fact that, in the case of REDD+ as an example, there are both individual projects and jurisdictional programmes already underway, generating real emissions reductions and tremendous development benefits that could help the aviation sector meet its goals under an MBM.

So, we are onboard the plane. The safety demonstration has begun, but has yet to be completed. However, once it is done, we taxi to the runway and take off . . . Pretty exciting!

David Antonioli, VCS

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