Airlines agree to curb their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020

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Fiona Harvey, The Guardian

International Air Transport Association resolution calls on world governments to agree measures to manage carbon dioxide

International airlines have agreed for the first time to global curbs on their greenhouse gas emissions – but fell well short of the measures to combat climate change that green campaigners had demanded.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Monday passed a resolution calling on world governments to agree measures to manage carbon dioxide from air travel, which would come into force from 2020.

They said there should be a single global "market-based mechanism" – such as emissions trading – that would enable airlines to account for and offset their emissions.

But they did not agree to a global limit on greenhouse gas emissions from air travel, or set out in detail how governments should implement a market-based mechanism to cover all airlines.

Their move may help to ease an ongoing row over whether airlines from outside the EU should be bound by Europe's emissions trading rules.

The European commission insisted that they should, and would have to pay for carbon permits covering flights taking off and landing within the EU's borders.

Under the emissions trading system, companies must produce a permit for every tonne of carbon dioxide they produce, with some permits allocated free and others auctioned. Companies can also top up their permit quota with carbon credits – awarded by the UN to projects that cut emissions in developing countries, such as solar panels or windfarms.

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