Environmental Groups Pressure UN for Carbon Restrictions

Environmental groups have urged the United States to back a global deal to curb carbon emissions produced by planes, saying that global aviation emits more greenhouse gases than all but six of the world's nations.

The groups recently presented a petition with more than 60,000 signatures to a representative of the U.S. State Department. The petition asks U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to secure an agreement through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for a market-based approach to curb heat-trapping emissions produced by planes.

The group hopes to devise a plan that would avert the reinstatement of an unpopular European Union law requiring all aircraft that land at or take off from EU airports to pay for emissions through the bloc's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

ICAO's working group has since considered various market-based measures to address emissions, such as mandatory carbon offsetting and a global carbon cap-and-trade system.

So far, delegates have not advanced a plan, and concluded this week's meeting with a draft of general principles to discuss at a later meeting.

Countries seem to be deadlocked over the geographic scope of a global mechanism over how to charge for carbon emissions related to international flights. A U.S. proposal for curbing aircraft emissions would exclude time spent flying over international waters. The EU, on the other hand, wants to apply a carbon charge to emissions released over international airspace.