Industry Groups Welcome ICAO Climate Agreement


Airline and airport groups are applauding ICAO for reaching agreement on new aviation emissions goals, even though some targets differ from those the industry has been recommending.

The achievement of consensus on the environmental issue by ICAO’s 190 member nations represents a “historic decision,” according to the International Air Transport Association. “For the first time, we have globally agreed aspirational goals to stabilize emissions,” says IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani. “No other industry sector has a similar … framework for managing its response to climate change.”

IATA has urged ICAO to come up with a global approach to aviation emissions, and the airline group believed it would be a disaster for the industry if ICAO failed to reach agreement during last week’s ICAO general assembly.

One of the main goals in ICAO’s resolution is improving fuel efficiency by 2% annually through 2050. This is higher than the 1.5% annual improvement target that is one of the recommendations proposed by IATA and other industry groups.

Industry efforts would be enough to achieve the 1.5% goal, Bisignani says. However, if ICAO wants to achieve the stricter 2% goal, “governments must come to the table with much needed infrastructure improvements such as the Single European Sky or NextGen in the U.S.”

The ICAO resolution also calls for capping aviation’s carbon emissions from 2020 and developing a global CO2 standard for aircraft engines with a target date of 2013. One of the industry’s other recommendations was cutting net emissions in half by 2050 compared to 2005 levels, but ICAO did not adopt this goal.

ICAO proposes developing a global framework for market-based economic measures by 2013, and it has established a list of principles that should be followed. IATA stresses this clause has implications for all governments that are looking to impose their own market-based plans to address aviation emissions.

“In light of this agreement, all states should review any economic measures, planned or implemented, to conform to [ICAO’s] agreed principles,” Bisignani says. “The only effective long-term solution remains a global approach, which states agreed to work towards under ICAO’s leadership.”

It is unclear what the resolution means for the disputes over the EU’s plan to include airlines in its Emissions Trading Scheme. IATA insists that the ICAO agreement calls for any such market-based measures to be developed on a global basis, but senior EU officials claim the resolution strengthens their case.

Meanwhile, Airports Council International described the resolution as “a great step forward.” ACI Director General Angela Gittens says the group supports the main ICAO targets. “We are pleased to see that ICAO national delegations accept the need for a shared global vision and common goals as well as their willingness to move ahead on the agreed positions in the resolution, despite some remaining questions that will be addressed in future discussions,” Gittens says.

Industry groups stress that they will be pushing for states to adhere to ICAO’s global sectoral approach during the 16th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Cancun in December.

By Adrian Schofield

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