Airline association Iata has called on governments to adopt a single global carbon offset mechanism for aviation.

Iata members passed a resolution at their annual general meeting yesterday urging adoption of a scheme by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) assembly in September.

However, the resolution was opposed by Chinese carriers whose representatives suggested the proposal was unfeasible.

A representative of one Chinese carrier suggested CO2 emissions should not be capped until 2030, when Iata policy is to cap global net emissions from 2020.

Iata director general Tony Tyler told association members: “It’s clear that our 2020 carbon-neutral growth target cannot be met with improvements in technology, infrastructure and operations alone.

“To achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020, we need a mandatory global carbon offset scheme.”

An ICAO assembly in September will consider a proposed Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

Tyler said: “We don’t want a patchwork of conflicting regimes with overlapping taxes and charges. We need a mandatory global carbon offset scheme that is fair, transparent, effective and simple.”

The resolution calls on governments to consider 11 elements for the scheme recommended by Iata to “simplify implementation while avoiding market distortions”.

Tyler said: “The details are still being worked out. But as an industry we want a cost-effective measure that leads to real and permanent carbon reductions.

“That mechanism should be simple, mandatory and applied on a global basis, avoiding the cost and complexity that a patchwork of uncoordinated measures would create.”

Earlier, Tyler described the environment as “the biggest item on the agenda this year”.

He said: “We need a decision at the assembly to have the scheme in operation by 2020. There should be one scheme and no new schemes other than this should be introduced.”

Tyler conceded: “Any scheme will have costs and ultimately passengers will have to meet those costs. However, a global scheme that is fair and effective could be implemented at a cost we believe to be acceptable and that would not affect demand.”

ICAO council president Dr Bernard Aliu told Iata members: “The political will exists to draft a global mechanism, with the scheme to be fully operational by 2020.”