Brazil Will Wait to Join Airline Emissions Deal, Official Says

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil is unlikely to join the initial phases of a proposed United Nations accord being brokered this month to limit emissions from international air travel, a senior government official said.

Brazil, one of the fastest-growing aviation markets, doesn’t produce enough emissions to justify joining the accord in the initial voluntary phases, beginning in 2021, said Brazilian National Civil Aviation Agency director Ricardo Fenelon Jr.

The country will wait to join the agreement when it’s expected to become mandatory in 2027, and other developing nations in the region should follow Brazil’s example, he said.

If approved at a meeting beginning this month in Montreal, the deal would be the first global climate accord for a single industry. Emissions from international flights account for about 2 percent of global greenhouse gases and are forecast to more than triple over the next few decades as flights increase in Asia, Latin America and elsewhere. Airlines were largely excluded from the Paris climate accord over concerns that divvying up responsibility for international flights would derail the agreement.

The UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization has been working on the accord for more than a decade, developing a system requiring airlines to purchase credits to offset emissions growth beyond 2020. Environmentalists say the effort’s success hinges on whether it can draw enough nations to cover 80 to 90 percent of emissions.

Singapore Commits

Dozens of nations so far have said they would join the accord in the initial phase, including the U.S., China, Indonesia and 44 European countries. Singapore, a key aviation hub, on Monday became the latest nation to commit, announcing support for the accord on ICAO’s website. 

Brazil, currently responsible for less than 1 percent of global aviation emissions, is seen as key to the effort’s success because its aviation industry is forecast to nearly double in terms of passengers by 2034, according to the International Air Transport Association. Mark Lutes, senior global climate policy adviser at WWF International, said it would be disappointing if Brazil doesn’t join the accord at the outset.

“If countries like Brazil don’t participate, we will have to admit we won’t meet our goals,” Lutes said.