MONTREAL/SHANGHAI Major countries are urging China to join the start of a U.N.-brokered deal to limit carbon emissions from international flights because its participation is seen as essential to hitting targets, according to an Asian source familiar with the talks.
The talks are being led by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The Montreal-based United Nations agency meets Sept. 27 to Oct. 7 to try and finalize the deal made public on Friday.
Europe and the United States want the deal to cover 80 percent of the rise in emissions from international flights after 2020, two other sources familiar with the regions' thinking said.
The three sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are confidential.
Since India has balked at joining the deal in local news reports, China's participation is likely needed to meet the 80 percent target, said the non-profit International Council on Clean Transportation.
Environmentalists said they hope China will join the deal's voluntary first phases, with a possible announcement at this weekend's G20 summit in Hangzhou. China is hosting the G20 gathering for the first time.
"All eyes are now on Beijing," said Dan Rutherford, the ICCT's program director for marine and aviation.
Aviation was excluded from last December's climate accord in Paris.
A joint statement from the United States and China from the G20 is expected on Saturday to send a strong signal favoring an aviation emissions deal, said Li Shuo, climate advisor with environmental group Greenpeace in Beijing.
It is not yet clear whether China will participate in the deal's voluntary phases from 2021 to 2026, which countries can join and subsequently opt out of with six months' notice.
China wants "developed countries" to take the lead in the deal, a point that will be debated at ICAO's autumn assembly.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China would not comment on the ICAO draft, which would make the deal mandatory in 2027 for most countries.
The market-based plan must win the support of ICAO member states, or risk the European Union breaking off talks and imposing its own emissions trading system on international airlines in 2017.
The global deal, which the airline industry supports, would require carriers in participating countries to limit their emissions or offset them by buying carbon credits from designated environmental projects around the world.
ICAO said it would be the first ever agreement covering international emissions from a whole industry sector.
(Reporting Allison Lampert in Montreal, David Stanway in Shanghai, Valerie Volcovici in Washington and Victoria Bryan in Berlin; editing by Marguerita Choy and Chizu Nomiyama)