Air Supremacy: The Surprisingly Important Dogfight over Climate Pollution from International Aviation

October 2012

Aviation emissions are one of the fastest growing sources of climate pollution and have outsized climate consequences because they involve a potent mix of pollutants and because altitude magnifies their harmful impacts. Europe, spurred by a strong awareness of the threat of climate change, has grown impatient with the slow pace of international climate diplomacy and regulated emissions of all flights into and out of Europe. The United States and other nations see in Europe’s move a naked power grab with dangerous consequences for non-European airlines. Many of the prevailing feelings about this recent transatlantic turbulence rests on myths and misconceptions. The persistence of these myths also explains why few policymakers understand the challenge and importance of bringing this dispute in for a safe landing. Failure to do so would pose enormous risks not only for transatlantic trade relations but also for the global climate and trade systems.