Four major international air carriers publicly announced today their position that emissions from international aviation should be included in the next global agreement on climate change, to be negotiated in December at the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen.

Under the aegis of a new industry coalition, the Aviation Global Deal Group ("ADG Group"), airlines Air France/KLM, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Virgin Atlantic, along with airport operator BAA, issued a communiqué calling for a global approach to addressing aviation's contribution to climate change and setting forth six "key principles" that should govern any regulatory regime.

Among these principles are the use of market-based regulatory instruments, equal treatment among airlines, and the concept of "common but differentiated responsibility," under which more-developed countries, in recognition of their greater financial and technical resources and historically greater contribution to global environmental problems, must make deeper cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions than less-developed countries. This last principle, embodied in the Kyoto Protocol, nonetheless remains controversial in some sectors, including the maritime transportation industry. It remains to be seen whether the principles articulated by the ADG Group will be embraced by other air carriers.

The communiqué also evinces a clear concern that, in the absence of a global agreement, airlines operating in countries with more aggressive GHG regulations (such as those based in the EU) will be at a competitive disadvantage relative to those whose home countries are not so inclined.