Rebel airline group calls on UN to consider climate czar

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A renegade group of major international airlines is calling for aviation to have its own climate czar, to ensure that some of the money raised from a future global cap and trade system is pumped back into green aviation technologies.

The Aviation Global Deal group, which comprises Air France-KLM, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Atlantic, has presented the alternative measure to UN climate change negotiators discussing a post-Kyoto global climate change deal.

Members also include UK airport operator BAA and environmental non-government organisation The Climate Group.

It says its framework is designed to address international aviation's carbon emissions and will set out an "ambitious, equitable and effective" approach under a forthcoming deal to be agreed in Copenhagen in December. The framework includes the following suggestions:

• International aviation's carbon emissions should be addressed through a global sectoral agreement, rather than a patchwork of regional initiatives, to avoid carbon leakage and maintain a level playing field

• A global target be set for the sector, to ensure it plays its part in global carbon dioxide emissions reduction, achieved through a cap-and-trade mechanism, with open access to global carbon markets

• An airline's carbon emissions be based on the carbon content of its annual fuel purchases and use of sustainable, lower life-cycle carbon alternatives be incentivised

• An international body administers the system

• Any revenue generated from auction of a proportion of carbon allowances be used for climate change adaptation and mitigation activities in developing countries and also research into greener aviation technology

Aviation Global Deal claims widespread support after having consulted various government, industry and other stakeholders and says it is looking to build support for the proposals, and engage further with negotiators, in the run-up to the Copenhagen session.

The group's efforts, on the fringes of the UN negotiating session in Bonn, marks the first time that airlines have made direct recommendations to UN climate change officials on how their sector's carbon dioxide emissions should be addressed.

This input came shortly after leading industry organisations converged on the Aviation and Environment Summit in Geneva to reaffirm their support for ICAO, which is leading the industry's efforts to draft a framework by late October.

Organised by the Air Transport Action Group, the summit ended with calls on ICAO to "urgently renew efforts to recommend an appropriate global sectoral framework" and produce substantive proposals by the time its specially designated group meets in May.