Today’s Solutions: February 06, 2023

Despite being in low demand, the airline industry could be getting some greener regulations in the near future. For the first time in the history of aviation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed carbon dioxide standards for the airline industry last week. 

Although the EPA has not publicly released their proposed regulations, many environmental organizations, such as the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, have been pushing the regulatory agency to impose stricter oversight of the airline industry since 2010. The institute has sued the Obama and Trump administrations in 2010, 2014, and 2016 in an attempt to increase airline emissions regulations. 

After the 2016 court confirmation that aircraft pollution is indeed a threat to public health and wellbeing, the EPA is finally proposing regulations. The regulations will likely start out small and codify the standards set by the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Many aircrafts flying in the US today already meet those standards, so it’s a good place to begin.

Stricter regulations are badly needed. Planes are expected to generate 43 metric gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050 after airline operations resume post COVID-19. So what would more effective regulations look like? The Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute says capping emissions at 2020 levels is a great start. Next, they propose forcing airlines to reduce emissions by at least 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2050.

Investing in greener forms of efficient travel like high-speed trains is another great option. Additionally, the U.S. could follow in Norway’s footsteps. The country has committed to electrify all flights by 2040.

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