The 25 July FT reported that the European Union is looking to include aviation in the European Emission Trading Scheme (see comment).
This looks like an interesting development.
(We) environmentalists are quick condemn flying as the big baddy for global warming. It's not hard, for example, to imagine the scorn that some will pour on iniatives like the Sustainable Aviation Group, an association of airports, airlines and aviation manufacturers which says it will increase fuel efficiency by 50% per seat kilometre by 2020.
But hold up a moment. If the volume of air traffic (seat kilometres) increases by 3% a year it will be almost half as almost big again in 15 years. On this reckoning, a doubling of efficiency would yield total emissions of less than three quarters of the amount today.
A 25% cut in emissions from aviation would not be a bad real world result .
By contrast, the idealist - more acurately absolutist - view that [other] people should just stop flying is unlikely to influence many people.
More useful, then, to scrutinise energetically the work of the Sustainable Aviation Group and those with similar goals (if any) to see whether they take the necessary steps in a timely manner, and examine just how far proposals like including aviation in the ETS (for a start) can help, and what can be achieved building on those proposals.
This requires detailed understanding of the challenges (definitely) and (even) willingness to talk to the principal actors in a non-confrontational way. It does not mean withdrawing the "threat" of some form of sanction (although environmentalists are the small clutch of 2 ounce mice in this picture and consumers are the large troop of eight hundred pound gorillas).
What is going to deliver progress apart from a combination of pressures including hard market signals?
(For another view see Donal Fitzgibbon)