The Paris Agreement focusing on the reduction of emissions and overall achievement of climate neutrality has initiated efforts to reduce carbon emissions throughout the aviation industry. Airlines are one of the major emitters of carbon dioxide, and air travel is forecast to double by 2030. However, aviation had not been included in the agreement until now.
More than sixty governments have pledged to participate in the program, which is centered around making aviation carbon neutral after 2020. The countries agreeing to participate in the emissions cap include aviation powerhouses such as China, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates. The Environmental Defense Fund estimates that those who have committed to participating represent about 77% of the carbon emissions growth beyond 2020. Voluntary compliance of the emissions cap starts in 2021, but will become mandatory by 2027. 80-90% of emissions exceeding the 2020 levels would need to be covered by the initial agreement for the sector to make their goal of carbon-neutral growth. China's participation in the initial phase of the deal, from 2021-2026, is what is needed to hit that mark. If all countries were to fully comply to the regulations, it would be the equivalent of removing about 35 million cars from the road every year.
The biggest concern consumers may have regarding the emissions cap would be the increase in prices for international travel and overall airline usage. By 2027, participation in the emissions cap will be mandatory, and airlines will be held accountable for their emissions. If airlines go over their allowed emissions, they will be required to purchase carbon offsets. The International Civil Aviation Organization estimates that the program–or more specifically, the carbon offsets–will cost airlines between $5.3 and $23.9 billion. Depending on the airline, decisions will be made on how much this cost will be passed on to the passengers. However, ticket prices are not expected to rise more than 1.5%.
Airlines potential plans of action following the cap to help reduce emissions as well as costs could include investment in technology to further increase the environmental efficiency of their aircrafts or the exploration of more sustainable fuels. Altogether, this aviation deal is a test of participation and devotion to the new Paris Agreement, and overall commitment to reducing human impact on climate change.