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United Nations seen as likely choice for airline pollution cuts

[LONDON] A carbon market run by the United Nations is emerging as the most probable supplier of the emissions credits necessary to curb greenhouse gas pollution from the world's airline industry, according to a group that develops ways to verify carbon reductions.

The UN's airline regulator will probably want to use an existing program with the rules and tracking systems in place to ensure credits traded among companies maintain integrity at a scale needed to meet demand, said David Antonioli, chief executive officer of Washington-based Verified Carbon Standard. The agency is currently debating rules for an aviation carbon market post-2020.

"You can't just get to 2020, turn a switch, and expect there will be credits available," said Mr Antonioli, speaking from Montreal, where nations are meeting this week to discuss a plan for curbing aviation emissions.

"Airlines would probably like the certainty that existing markets can provide."

While aircraft account for only a fraction of global greenhouse gases, they're among the fastest-growing sources of the emissions contributing to global warming. International regulators and industry leaders are discussing how to curb carbon pollution from planes as the US moves forward with its own plans to regulate the industry.

An environment committee of the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal is gauging the "potential needs" of the aviation market, it said last month.

The Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection wants to allow aircraft operators to buy and sell carbon credits and allowances from existing carbon offset programs and emissions-trading markets to meet their pollution limits.

The main UN carbon market is the Clean Development Mechanism regulated from Bonn. It remains unclear whether companies will be able to use UN credits that already exist, Mr Antonioli said.

The organization is seeking to set a framework by October for the new market.

BLOOMBERG