The aviation industry hailed a significant development on climate change issues made at a meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the UN specialised agency for aviation. After two weeks of tense negotiations, following many years of discussions, delegates representing 191 countries have agreed a resolution charting the way forward for tackling aviation's climate change impact.
"This is clearly an historic resolution, showing the leadership of both developed and developing country governments meeting at ICAO in driving to the first comprehensive agreement on climate change for any global sector," said Paul Steele, Executive Director of the industry-wide Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), speaking on behalf of the industry, "It represents significant progress. The aviation industry has been advocating for such a scheme since we developed the first global industry targets five years ago. We now have agreement on a global scheme and a timeline and the building blocks to deliver it.
"Importantly, the Resolution also highlights the significance of continued work on the so-called 'basket of measures', recognising that a market-based measure is just one of a suite of important tools needed to reduce aviation emissions. New technology, more efficient operations and infrastructure improvements also need to be pursued - things the industry has been doing for many years."
The resolution commits governments to develop a global market-based measure for aviation emissions from 2020, to be decided at the next ICAO assembly, scheduled for 2016. The next three years will be spent on technical discussions as states work on the design elements of such a scheme, including standards for the monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions and the type of scheme to be implemented.
Steele commented, "These have been tough negotiations. The global politics and interests of 191 states had to be taken into account - we have seen the same struggles at the UN climate talks. But I am delighted to see that governments meeting at ICAO have managed to overcome their differences on these issues and reach agreement. The united spirit of the aviation community, including governments, industry and civil society, was on show today and it was a significant demonstration of how working together can deliver real results."
The aviation industry, coordinated through ATAG, submitted a working paper to the Assembly from the global associations Airports Council International (ACI), Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) and the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations (ICCAIA).
"Industry looks to ICAO as the body safeguarding the harmonised global system of standards that enable us to provide air services in a safe, secure and reliable manner. We congratulate the ICAO leadership for skilfully guiding these negotiations. Industry stands ready over the next three years to assist states to develop the proposals needed for a 2016 sign-off."
Steele said, "We must also recognise the important role that the European Union has played in acting as a catalyst for discussions. The EU ETS, whilst it created tensions between states, also prompted action at a global level and their willingness to 'stop the clock' on extra-European flights provided the necessary welcome relief of tension in the discussions."
In commenting on the outcome of the ICAO Assembly, IATA director general and CEO, Tony Tyler said, "Reaching this landmark agreement among ICAO's 191 member states was a challenging task. Today's result carries on the ICAO tradition of uniting governments to focus on the global standards that underpin global connectivity. I congratulate the ICAO leadership for their vision and skill in rallying interests around a common purpose."
ACI director general, Angela Gittens, said, "ACI welcomes the States' agreement to finalise work through ICAO on a global market based measures scheme, effective 2020, taking into account the proposal from the aviation industry. As well, ACI continues to expand its Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, of which 90 airports representing 22% of global air passenger traffic are already a part, and the Airport Carbon and Emissions Reporting Tool which particularly enables smaller airports to manage their carbon footprint. Attaining sound environmental stewardship is at the heart of our business."
CANSO director general, Jeff Poole, said, "We are delighted that States have made significant progress towards carbon neutral growth from 2020 by adopting a global market-based measure. We are also pleased that the ICAO Assembly agreed with CANSO's view that improved airspace structures and design will lead to greater efficiency and reduced emissions. This will add to the extensive operational performance measures already being taken by the air traffic management industry and will be a step further towards the CANSO vision of seamless airspace globally."
Chair of ICCAIA, Jan Pie, the secretary general of the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe, said, "Aerospace industry manufacturers and service providers worldwide congratulate ICAO and its member states on achieving this important milestone. ICCAIA members recognise the need to address climate change by continuing to improve efficiency through technological improvements and other measures, so we welcome this positive decision."
IBAC director general, Kurt Edwards, said, "ICAO's decision to develop a global MBM represents a constructive route away from a patchwork quilt of national and regional MBMs. It is a path to greater predictability and certainty for business operators. IBAC and the business aviation community stand ready to contribute to ICAO's important work going forward."