Aiming for 1.5°C Science-Based Emission Cuts


At the climate conference (COP21) in December 2015, 195 countries adopted the Paris Agreement—the first global climate agreement that brings all nations into a common cause based on their historic, current and future responsibilities.  The Agreement’s main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.


The agreement recognized that for over 100 highly vulnerable countries, an increase anywhere close to 2ºC poses grave, even existential, risks to them, which is why driving efforts to limit warming to 1.5ºC is so critical. However, limiting warming to 1.5ºC requires global emissions to peak and then decline more rapidly and all sectors must contribute.


The Paris Agreement makes no explicit reference to emissions from international aviation. However, given aviation’s current climate impact, and the projected growth in its emissions, it is imperative for the sector to increase its ambition in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.


ICAO will soon begin work in technical committees on developing a long-term target for international aviation emissions. ICSA believes that this long-term term target must be in line with the 1.5ºC aim of the Paris Agreement and must address not only aviation’s CO2 emissions, but also the non-CO2 warming impacts (e.g. contrails, aviation induced cloudiness, etc.), which scientists believe could represent half of aviation’s contribution to climate change.