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Countries around the globe agreed this week to significantly lower emissions from airplanes by 2050, a landmark deal aimed at curbing the effects of climate change, the New York Times reported.
The agreement follows nearly a decade of climate talks among member countries in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The United Nations agency finalized the deal following a Friday meeting among its members.
Under the pact, nations agreed to reach a target of “net zero” emissions, a point at which air travel is no longer pumping additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The ambitious goal means that the aviation industry would need to drastically alter its practices and step up its climate efforts. It would also require governments and companies to invest billions in creating efficient aircraft and cleaner fuels to sharply reduce emissions from air travel itself.
The deal would particularly impact richer nations, which account for the bulk of global air travel: The International Council on Clean Transportation, a think tank, estimates that the richest 20 percent of people worldwide take 80 percent of the flights. Meanwhile, the top two percent of frequent fliers take about 40 percent of the flights.
Still, the new agreement does not come with any authority to initiate policies and leaves the tasks of setting targets to ICAO members.
The aviation industry has been slow to address its emission goals, which are not covered under the 2015 Paris Climate Accords.
Worldwide commercial aviation accounted for around three percent of global emissions in 2019, having increased by more than 30 percent over the preceding decade before the coronavirus outbreak which caused air traffic to fall.