September 5, 2016 / 10:15 PM / 3 years ago

Marshall Islands backs plan to curb aviation emissions

OSLO (Reuters) - The Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean gave backing on Tuesday for an accord to curb carbon dioxide emissions from airlines in a widening of support to a first small developing nation vulnerable to climate change.

At the weekend, China, the United States, the European Union and 16 surrounding nations such as Turkey and Georgia gave support to the agreement, raising momentum for a deal due to be finalised at a meeting of the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in September.

“All of us need to do our fair share – every country and every sector,” Marshall Islands Transport Minister Mike Halferty said in a statement, urging other nations to follow.

The Pacific island country of about 53,000 people, which fears impacts of climate change such as rising seas and more storms, said it would support the deal as long as it was environmentally sound and included ways to increase ambition.

The proposed new deal on aviation, which aims to cap the carbon pollution of all international flights at 2020 levels, is due to be voluntary between 2021 and 2026 and then mandatory from 2027 for the world’s largest emitters.

The accord is expected to go into effect from 2021. Mexico, Canada and Indonesia had already said they would join.

The Marshall Islands said that an agreement would probably only add a few dollars to the cost of a ticket on a long-haul flight.

Separately, the aviation industry, represented by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), said the deal was not ambitious enough with the initial voluntary scheme.

“We do not feel a pilot phase is necessary, because airlines and other aircraft operators will be ready and able to commence the scheme from 2020,” Michael Gill, Executive Director of ATAG, said in a statement.

A global deal to combat climate change, agreed in Paris last December, had omitted curbs on aviation.

Reporting By Alister Doyle; editing by Diane Craft

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