WWF-UK Says Airlines Can Meet Climate Goals

02 June 2016 | World Wildlife Fund-UK News Release

WWF is calling on airlines to commit to high quality carbon credits and sustainable alternative fuels in order to meet their climate targets. New research, commissioned by WWF-UK, shows that there is no need for airlines to use any measures with poor performance on emissions or risks to sustainable development. The research comes as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is discussing climate change at its AGM in Dublin.

The 2015 Paris Agreement did not explicitly mention aviation, but emissions in this sector are growing fast and must be reduced to keep global warming “well below 2°C”. This autumn the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will decide in on key features of a global market-based measure (MBM) to cap CO2 emissions from international flights at 2020 levels. One key issue in ICAO is the sustainability of the measures to be credited under the scheme, which is why WWF-UK commissioned the Stockholm Environment Institute to look into supply and sustainability of carbon credits and alternative fuels for aviation.

The analysis found that there could be enough sustainable biofuel and high quality credits to satisfy up to 73% of ICAO’s higher demand forecast for emissions reductions (4.5 Gt CO2e) or 100% of its lower demand forecast (3.3 Gt CO2e). This includes 0.1-0.3 Gt of reductions from sustainable biofuels, and up to 3.0 Gt from high quality carbon credits that support sustainable development. Any shortfall in emissions reductions could be met either through greater action on efficiency, or from carbon project types where certification is essential to ensure that the promised emissions reductions are achieved, and/or any sustainable development risks are avoided.

WWF is calling for ICAO to send a clear signal in its Assembly Resolution that the MBM will only recognise carbon credits and alternative fuels that achieve real emissions reductions and promote sustainable development, and to finalise detailed sustainability rules as soon as possible.

WWF-UK CEO David Nussbaum said:

“As the world unites to fight climate change, the aviation industry has a responsibility to contribute its fair share of the effort. To future-proof themselves and safeguard their brand reputation, airlines should commit to using only high-quality carbon credits and sustainable alternative fuels, that avoid damaging side effects on emissions or sustainable development.

“ICAO must make it clear that carbon projects in the fossil fuel sector and conventional crop-based biofuels are not the answer, and should finalise binding sustainability criteria for both credits and fuels as soon as possible after the 2016 Assembly.”

Carbon credits and alternative fuels should both reduce emissions and support sustainable development. Examples include biogas carbon projects, which turn organic waste into green gas for heating and cooking, and waste-based biofuels that avoid negative land use impacts. But some fail to achieve the emissions reductions they promise and can pose risks to sustainable development. For example, some carbon projects in the energy sector perpetuate reliance on fossil fuels and hold back the transition to clean, renewable energy, while many conventional crop-based biofuels have damaging land use impacts on emissions, habitats and food security.

ICAO’s 191 Member States will decide on the MBM proposals at its next Assembly in September/October 2016. The MBM should come into full force in 2020.


Notes to Editors

  • The full report Greener Skies?, will be available on the WWF-UK website from 03/06/2016: http://www.wwf.org.uk/aviation2016
  • The summary report is available to download here immediately
  • Airlines seeking to commit to high quality carbon credits and sustainable alternative fuels are encouraged to contact WWF by email: Aviation@wwf.org.uk
  • WWF helped to set up the certification schemes Gold Standard (for carbon credits) and Roundtable for Sustainable Biomaterials (for biofuels). RSB recently launched a “low ILUC risk” certification module to tackle indirect sustainability impacts of biofuel production.
  • WWF has been seeking action on aviation emissions through ICAO since 2012, working in partnership with the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA) and its Flightpath 1.5 campaign: http://www.flightpath1point5.org/
  • In 2012-13, WWF convened stakeholder workshops to develop innovative ideas for a workable MBM agreement, and published a report on the various MBM design options.
  • Since 2014, WWF has been working through ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environment Protection and Global Aviation Dialogues to ensure ICAO agrees and MBM that fully delivers the required level of emissions reductions while supporting sustainable development.
  • Most recently, at a High Level Meeting in Montreal, WWF worked with ICSA to help secure two key improvements to the draft MBM Assembly Resolution text:

o A ‘ratchet and review’ clause to increase the scheme’s ambition in line with the Paris Agreement
o An upgrade to the carbon credits criteria, so they will be robust ‘standards’ and not just ‘guidance’

Lianne Mason | WWF-UK Press Office Manager
T: +44 (0)1483 412206 | M: +44 (0)7415230338

Link to original article: http://www.wwf.org.uk/about_wwf/press_centre/index.cfm?uNewsID=7881

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