Skip to main content
Toward a Global Aviation Emissions Agreement
Harvard Environmental Law Review (2011)
  • Brian F. Havel, DePaul University
  • Gabriel S. Sanchez, DePaul University
While the work of formulating a global, pan-sectoral climate change treaty has stalled, the possibility of formulating sector-specific emissions reduction agreement is still available. In this article we propose that a sectoralized treaty to reduce the emissions produced by international civil aviation is both feasible and normatively desirable. The support for emissions reduction in this sector from government leaders and industry stakeholders indicates an opportune alignment of political will for a sector-specific approach. However, we are mindful also of Realpolitik. We do not expect to reach a global “big bang” solution, in the fraught arena of carbon emissions policy, without first achieving a narrower collaboration of like-minded States. In our view, even if a comprehensive treaty encompassing every nation on earth is not immediately practicable, then an incremental - but not insubstantial - approach is still possible. While several plausible transnational contexts could be proposed for this kind of initiative, in our view the most promising setting is the landmark Air Transport Agreement signed by the United States and European Union in 2007. In the absence of any immediate prospect of multisectoral success, this article views the exceptional status of international aviation, both historically and under the U.N. Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCC), as an opportunity to transcend the limitations of the UNFCCC and to envision a truly radical project of global governance. Such an approach, in turn, can demonstrate that collaborative projects for strong global governance are not doomed to endless stalemate.
  • aviation,
  • airlines,
  • european union,
  • climate change,
  • international law,
  • greenhouse gas,
  • united nations framework convention on climate change,
  • international trade,
  • fragmentation,
  • environment,
  • emissions,
  • emissions trading scheme
Publication Date
Citation Information
Brian F. Havel; Gabriel S. Sanchez, Toward an International Aviation Emissions Agreement, 36 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 351, 386 (2012)