The need for legal regulation of global emissions from the aviation industry in the context of emerging aerospace vehicles

Paulina E. Sikorska


Emissions of black carbon from aerospace vehicles pose a challenge to international regulators. This mode of transport is still in its infancy, but is predicted to develop rapidly. Despite the lack of comprehensive scientific research, it has been argued that black carbon is the main contributor to climate change after greenhouse gases.

These emissions, which cause transboundary pollution, cannot be effectively reduced by national laws because of differences in emissions standards. The main challenge is how to regulate them – through binding or non-binding laws – and in which form – harmonisation or unification of laws. International air and space regulations are subject to the trends of politicisation and economisation. The lack of a binding international law that regulates greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation industry is primarily caused by a lack of political will and economic calculations of certain states with respect to limits on their national interests. This article proposes soft law as a solution to stagnation in creating binding international regulations for emissions in the aviation and aerospace industry.


Greenhouse gases; Black carbon; Aerospace vehicles; Suborbital flights; International emissions regulations; Soft law.

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