Aug 11, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Gina McCarthy confirms talks ongoing with airline industry to cut emissions

Gina McCarthy. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images
Gina McCarthy. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy was on the road Tuesday in Illinois to tout the administration's progress on climate action and learn more about cutting-edge energy research at two national laboratories.

Driving the news: In an interview with Axios, she addressed a Reuters report that the White House is working with the airline industry on a plan to cut that sector's greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050, through the use of sustainable aviation fuels, among other steps.

The intrigue: McCarthy confirmed conversations are ongoing with the airline industry, which is a growing source of emissions and particularly difficult to decarbonize, though she said an announcement of any agreement is premature.

  • "We're certainly looking at a number of new initiatives moving forward and I know [Transportation] Secretary Buttigieg has been talking to the airline industry, as has our entire climate team," she said.
  • McCarthy cast an airline industry deal as a potential part of what the U.S. might be able to bring to the table at the United Nations Glasgow climate summit in November.
  • "We're going to wait till the opportunity to actually roll something out, but clearly we want to get in every sector of the economy," she said.

The big picture: The administration needs all the credibility it can get from climate actions in order to maximize its influence in Glasgow.

  • "If we can do something with the airline sector to look at as fuels that are less carbon-intensive, if we can look at those opportunities, moving forward, it will be a big benefit when we get to Glasgow," McCarthy said.
  • "It's a little too early for any announcement."

McCarthy also told Axios that the landmark IPCC report, released Monday, "was disturbing" because it narrowed the opportunity to limit warming to the low-end 1.5-degree Paris temperature target.

  • How administration officials and members of Congress interpret the IPCC report could point the way to what's next in climate policy, particularly as the $3.5 trillion Democrats-only spending package is crafted during the next few months.
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