Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Airlines Push to Loosen Carbon Restrictions Amid Pandemic

Business
Airlines Push to Loosen Carbon Restrictions Amid Pandemic
A Boeing 727 flies over approach lights with a trail of black-smoke from the engines on April 9, 2018. aviation-images.com / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

With global air travel at a near standstill, the airline industry is looking to rewrite the rules it agreed to tackle global emissions. The Guardian reports that the airline is billing it as a matter of survival, while environmental activists are accusing the industry of trying to dodge their obligations.


The governing body of the airline industry, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned that airlines will start to pull out of a plan to offset and reduce carbon emissions if the International Civil Aviation Organization does not amend the rules, according to The Guardian.

The issue is that future offsets are determined by a benchmark that averages emissions from 2019 and 2020. The higher the emissions are, the higher the bar will be set and the less the airlines will have to pay. Rather than commit to a low-carbon future, though, the airline-lobbying group is complaining that the global pandemic has reduced emissions so drastically that it will push the average down too much and future carbon targets will be too steep a challenge, as The Guardian reported.

The Green Alliance found that before the coronavirus lockdowns the airlines' plans to reduce emissions would not meet the requirements of the Paris agreement.

As The Guardian reported, James Elliott, a Green Alliance policy adviser, said, "Calls to reduce burdens on the [aviation] sector as it recovers are understandable. But the climate emergency also presents an urgent challenge which must be addressed. If the sector cannot find ways to rebuild itself sustainably after the Covid-19 crisis, it will face painful disruption again in the future as its part in the climate emergency has to be addressed."

A new investigation by Unearthed revealed that the airline industry is coordinating efforts around the world to push governments and airports around the world to roll back environmental taxes. Furthermore, the papers Unearthed found are a strategy to lobby for public money to be poured into funds to restart or maintain air travel and for any planned tax increases to be delayed for up to a year.

Emirates, America's largest international airline, has gone one step further than the IATA recommended and asked the New York Port Authority to defer any tax obligations until 2022, according to a letter from the CEO of Emirates, as reported by Unearthed.

Jo Dardenne, aviation manager at campaign group Transport and Environment, told Unearthed, "We fear that this list of demands is a way for airlines to reduce charges not only now but also once things go back to 'normal'.

"Any financial aid to the sector should be conditional on them paying their taxes and committing to governments' plans to regulate the climate impact of the sector. Given the current climate emergency, governments can't afford to be bailing out polluting sectors without strict green conditions."

IATA's director general, Alexandre de Juniac, told The Guardian that the industry was not relinquishing its responsibilities.

"We haven't given up our environmental goals … After the recovery we will continue to reduce emissions and noise footprints – that hasn't changed," he said. "This crisis is a matter of survival for the industry … We are asking governments for urgent help. Of course we will comply with our environmental obligations. Before that, we have to survive – or there will be no issue with the environment, the industry will have disappeared."

Greenpeace, however, is appalled by what the industry is asking for and takes issue with carbon offsets as responsible environmental stewardship. "At the same time as they're asking for huge government bailouts, airlines are also lobbying furiously to dodge their obligations towards cutting carbon emissions," said John Sauven, Greenpeace UK's executive director, as The Guardian reported. "Offsetting schemes have always been big polluters' favorite excuse to carry on polluting while shifting responsibility for their emissions to someone else. The industry's current proposal would only make the buck-passing easier."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A resident works in the vegetable garden of the Favela Nova Esperanca – a "green favela" which reuses everything and is subject to the ethics of permaculture – in the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Feb. 14, 2020. NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP via Getty Images

Farmers are the stewards of our planet's precious soil, one of the least understood and untapped defenses against climate change. Because of its massive potential to store carbon and foundational role in growing our food supply, soil makes farming a solution for both climate change and food security.

Read More Show Less
Once the virus escapes into the air inside a building, you have two options: bring in fresh air from outside or remove the virus from the air inside the building. Halfpoint Images / Getty Images

By Shelly Miller

The vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs indoors, most of it from the inhalation of airborne particles that contain the coronavirus. The best way to prevent the virus from spreading in a home or business would be to simply keep infected people away. But this is hard to do when an estimated 40% of cases are asymptomatic and asymptomatic people can still spread the coronavirus to others.

Read More Show Less
California Senator Kamala Harris endorses Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at a campaign rally at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Michigan on March 9, 2020. JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made a historic announcement Tuesday when he named California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate in the 2020 presidential election.

Read More Show Less
An aerial view taken on August 8, 2020 shows a large patch of leaked oil from the MV Wakashio off the coast of Mauritius. STRINGER / AFP / Getty Images

The tiny island nation of Mauritius, known for its turquoise waters, vibrant corals and diverse ecosystem, is in the midst of an environmental catastrophe after a Japanese cargo ship struck a reef off the country's coast two weeks ago. That ship, which is still intact, has since leaked more than 1,000 metric tons of oil into the Indian Ocean. Now, a greater threat looms, as a growing crack in the ship's hull might cause the ship to split in two and release the rest of the ship's oil into the water, NPR reported.

On Friday, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency.

France has sent a military aircraft carrying pollution control equipment from the nearby island of Reunion to help mitigate the disaster. Additionally, Japan has sent a six-member team to assist as well, the BBC reported.

The teams are working to pump out the remaining oil from the ship, which was believed to be carrying 4,000 metric tons of fuel.

"We are expecting the worst," Mauritian Wildlife Foundation manager Jean Hugues Gardenne said on Monday, The Weather Channel reported. "The ship is showing really big, big cracks. We believe it will break into two at any time, at the maximum within two days. So much oil remains in the ship, so the disaster could become much worse. It's important to remove as much oil as possible. Helicopters are taking out the fuel little by little, ton by ton."

Sunil Dowarkasing, a former strategist for Greenpeace International and former member of parliament in Mauritius, told CNN that the ship contains three oil tanks. The one that ruptured has stopped leaking oil, giving disaster crews time to use a tanker and salvage teams to remove oil from the other two tanks before the ship splits.

By the end of Tuesday, the crew had removed over 1,000 metric tons of oil from the ship, NPR reported, leaving about 1,800 metric tons of oil and diesel, according to the company that owns the ship. So far the frantic efforts are paying off. Earlier today, a local police chief told BBC that there were still 700 metric tons aboard the ship.

The oil spill has already killed marine animals and turned the turquoise water black. It's also threatening the long-term viability of the country's coral reefs, lagoons and shoreline, NBC News reported.

"We are starting to see dead fish. We are starting to see animals like crabs covered in oil, we are starting to see seabirds covered in oil, including some which could not be rescued," said Vikash Tatayah, conservation director at Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, according to The Weather Channel.

While the Mauritian authorities have asked residents to leave the clean-up to officials, locals have organized to help.

"People have realized that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora," environmental activist Ashok Subron said in an AFP story.

Reuters reported that sugar cane leaves, plastic bottles and human hair donated by locals are being sewn into makeshift booms.

Human hair absorbs oil, but not water, so scientists have long suggested it as a material to contain oil spills, Gizmodo reported. Mauritians are currently collecting as much human hair as possible to contribute to the booms, which consist of tubes and nets that float on the water to trap the oil.

A northern mockingbird on June 24, 2016. Renee Grayson / CC BY 2.0

Environmentalists and ornithologists found a friend in a federal court on Tuesday when a judge struck down a Trump administration attempt to allow polluters to kill birds without repercussions through rewriting the Migratory Treaty Bird Act (MBTA).

Read More Show Less
A spiny dogfish shark swims in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Washington. NOAA / Wikimedia Commons

By Elizabeth Claire Alberts

There are trillions of microplastics in the ocean — they bob on the surface, float through the water column, and accumulate in clusters on the seafloor. With plastic being so ubiquitous, it's inevitable that marine organisms, such as sharks, will ingest them.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A "vessel of opportunity" skims oil spilled after the Deepwater Horizon well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. NOAA / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Loveday Wright and Stuart Braun

After a Japanese-owned oil tanker struck a reef off Mauritius on July 25, a prolonged period of inaction is threatening to become an ecological disaster.

Read More Show Less