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International and national climate policies for aviation: a review

Review article
Authors Jörgen Larsson
Anna Elofsson
Thomas Sterner
Jonas Åkerman
Published in Climate Policy
Volume 19
Issue 6
Pages 787-799
ISSN 1469-3062
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Economics
Pages 787-799
Language en
Keywords Aviation emissions, biofuels, carbon credits, carbon tax, policy instruments
Subject categories Economics


Aviation constitutes about 2.5% of all energy-related CO2 emissions and in addition there are non-CO2 effects. In 2016, the ICAO decided to implement a Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) and in 2017 the EU decided on faster emission reductions in its Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), which since 2012 includes the aviation sector. The effects of these policies on the expected development of air travel emissions from 2017 to 2030 have been analyzed. For the sample country Sweden, the analysis shows that when emissions reductions in other sectors are attributed to the aviation sector as a result of the EU ETS and CORSIA, carbon emissions are expected to reduce by −0.8% per year (however if non-CO2 emissions are included in the analysis, then emissions will increase). This is much less than what is needed to achieve the 2°C target. Our analysis of potential national aviation policy instruments shows that there are legally feasible options that could mitigate emissions in addition to the EU ETS and CORSIA. Distance-based air passenger taxes are common among EU Member States and through increased ticket prices these taxes can reduce demand for air travel and thus reduce emissions. Tax on jet fuel is an option for domestic aviation and for international aviation if bilateral agreements are concluded. A quota obligation for biofuels is a third option. Key policy insights Existing international climate policies for aviation will not deliver any major emission reductions. Policymakers who want to significantly push the aviation sector to contribute to meeting the 2°C target need to work towards putting in place tougher international policy instruments in the long term, and simultaneously implement temporary national policy instruments in the near-term. Distance-based air passenger taxes, carbon taxes on jet fuel and quota obligations for biofuels are available national policy options; if they are gradually increased, and harmonized with other countries, they can help to significantly reduce emissions.

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Utskriftsdatum: 2020-08-05