Centre mulls aviation emission offsets

India is examining possible mechanisms to offset higher emissions from rising civil aviation traffic, even as it has firmly opposed a global pact for curbing aviation emissions proposed by the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) that is currently being negotiated in Montreal.

“India’s aviation sector is growing at 22 per cent to 23 per cent over the last year and we expect it to continue to grow very rapidly over the next decade and a half, so emissions would rise,” said Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said at the World Sustainable Development Summit on Wednesday. “We have begun consultations in the ministry to see what we can do to offset the emissions,” he said.

Emissions cap

India has ratified the COP21 accord on climate change this Sunday, but while approving its ratification, the Union Cabinet had last week empowered the civil aviation ministry to flag India’s concerns about the proposed aviation emissions pact, including the move to cap aviation emissions at 2020 levels.

Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar had pointed out, while briefing about the cabinet’s decisions, that capping emissions from aviation would be unfair for developing countries where the civil aviation market is not mature and the number of airlines is limited compared to the developed world.

“We are okay with lesser emissions but that's not in our hands alone. Manufacturing has to improve, emission standards have to be improved and modern technology must be deployed,” Mr. Javadekar had said, adding that the cabinet had discussed the global market-based mechanism for cutting emissions from civil aviation.

BASIC countries had met in New Delhi and opposed the ICAO accord as one that could be forced upon developing nations. Aviation is estimated to account for two per cent of global greenhouse emissions. But air travel volumes are expected to double by 2030. About 58 out of the 191 countries participating at the ICAO meet have backed the pact so far.

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