The airline industry is pledging to cut carbon emissions by 50% in 2050, reports the Guardian, in a reluctant concession meant to stave off more dramatic action—but one that will likely increase fares and trigger a race for new, greener technology. The plan will be presented at the UN today and will be on the agenda at the critical climate change summit in Copenhagen this December. Beyond the emissions promise, the airlines are pledging 100% carbon-neutral growth by 2020 and entry into a global carbon trading scheme by next year.
The aviation industry was exempted from carbon caps at the 1997 Kyoto conference, and today's plans are being seen as an attempt to avoid rebukes from environmental campaigners in Copenhagen. Willie Walsh, the British Airways CEO making today's announcement, called the proposals "the most environmentally effective and practical means of reducing aviation's carbon impact." But the director of Greenpeace was underwhelmed by its reliance on carbon trading, saying the industry was "not really taking the issue of climate change seriously."