As someone who is pursuing their private pilot’s license, I often wonder how my hobby affects the world around me and what is being done to combat them. According to the Air Transport Action Group, the aviation industry is responsible for 2% of all human-induced CO2 emissions and 12% of transport-sourced CO2 emissions. While this may appear as a small statistic, in 2015 alone, airplanes produced over 780 million tonnes of CO2. This number is only expected to rise as more than 50,000 new planes are projected to enter the air. However, airlines do acknowledge the emissions they generate and have a plan to neutralize them. The International Civil Aviation Organization has brought forth a commitment of capping aviation-related carbon emissions at 2020 levels, meaning that after 2020, carbon levels will not increase within the aviation industry. This begs the question, how? While it is true that planes are more efficient, lighter, and burn less fuel, the increase in the number of aircraft flying alone will be enough to cause emissions to skyrocket. For the ICAO, they plan to combat carbon emissions by protecting forests and planting more trees, a lot of them. Similar to provisions in the Paris Agreement, the aviation industry could reduce emissions by investing in forests to offset emissions. Already, forests hold between 25%-33% of CO2 emissions, and those numbers would only increase if we protected and invested in them. I believe this is a fantastic idea brought forth by the industry. This kind of action shows that fighting CO2 emissions and climate change are not solely the responsibility of governments, but private entities as well. We know that people aren’t going to stop flying on planes anytime soon, so I find it very comforting to know that airlines and the ICAO are working to address this issue. If CO2 emissions were to rise uncontrollably, the consequences would be drastic, such as rising sea levels and disruptions in weather patterns. The ICAO is meeting this week in Montreal to discuss CO2 emissions and they plan to finalize their platform and targets for the upcoming years.

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