Private Governance Responses to Climate Change: The Case of Global Civil Aviation

42 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2018

See all articles by Michael P. Vandenbergh

Michael P. Vandenbergh

Vanderbilt University - Law School

Daniel J. Metzger

Selendy & Gay, New York

Date Written: September 6, 2018


This Article explores how private governance can reduce the climate effects of global civil aviation. The civil aviation sector is a major contributor to climate change, accounting for emissions comparable to a top ten emitting country. National and international governmental bodies have taken important steps to address civil aviation, but the measures adopted to date are widely acknowledged to be inadequate. Civil aviation poses particularly difficult challenges for government climate mitigation efforts. Many civil aviation firms operate globally, emissions often occur outside of national boundaries, nations differ on their respective responsibilities, and demand is growing rapidly. Although promising new technologies are emerging, they will take time to develop and adopt. This Article argues that private initiatives can overcome many of these barriers. Private initiatives can motivate civil aviation firms to act absent government pressure at the national level and can create pressure for mitigation that transcends national boundaries. The Article argues that it is time to develop a private climate governance agenda for civil aviation and identifies examples of the types of existing and new initiatives that could be included in the effort. If public and private policymakers can overcome the tendency to focus almost exclusively on public governance, private initiatives can yield large and prompt emissions reductions from global civil aviation, buy time for more comprehensive government measures, and complement the government measures when they occur.

Keywords: aviation, private governance, civil aviation, climate change

Suggested Citation

Vandenbergh, Michael P. and Metzger, Daniel, Private Governance Responses to Climate Change: The Case of Global Civil Aviation (September 6, 2018). Fordham Environmental Law Journal, Forthcoming; Vanderbilt Law Research Paper No. 18-40. Available at SSRN:

Michael P. Vandenbergh (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States

Daniel Metzger

Selendy & Gay, New York ( email )

1290 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10104
United States
2123909078 (Phone)

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