Aviation industry urges governments to show climate leadership

- Montreal, Canada.

Negotiations to complete the first global agreement on capping a single sector’s climate impact are due to resume in Montreal on Tuesday as the world’s governments meet for the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) 39th Assembly. The Assembly, which takes place every three years, will focus heavily on finding agreement between governments to develop a carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for international aviation, to be known as the CORSIA.

The Executive Director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group, Michael Gill, said that the time had come for governments to make an historic decision: “The aviation industry has been committed to developing a scheme such as the CORSIA for the last six years and has been working to convince governments of the important role of the scheme as part of a package of climate action for aviation. We are very close to that agreement becoming a reality. We urge governments meeting at ICAO agree on the world’s first sectoral market mechanism for tackling climate change.”

Following lengthy negotiations between governments meeting at ICAO, over the last six months the scheme has evolved to adopt a phased approach, where the first six years of CORSIA will be voluntary in nature. Whilst the industry remains in favour of a mandatory approach, it says that the initial voluntary system can work if enough States volunteer.

Gill comments: “We are heartened to see around 60 States now demonstrate their willingness to join the offset scheme voluntarily, from the beginning. We continue to encourage all other States meeting over the next two weeks of the ICAO Assembly to show the same leadership and to sign up to the CORSIA. Now is the time to follow the successful Paris Agreement with an aviation plan of action which will secure the sustainable future of the air transport sector.”

The cross-industry approach has been a strong catalyst for action at ICAO, with all parts of the commercial aviation industry supporting a pragmatic offsetting scheme as part of a wider set of actions, including new technology, improvements in operational efficiency and investment in modern infrastructure.

“Airports Council International (ACI) has continuously cooperated with the wider aviation community for the sustainable development of the sector,” said Angela Gittens, Director General, ACI World. “Airports have been actively contributing to the reduction of aviation emissions through the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme. The 25th ACI-NA/World Annual General Assembly is expected to approve on 28 September 2016, a Resolution reaffirming ACI’s support, alongside the rest of the industry, for CORSIA as the single global market-based measure for international aviation. ACI is also expecting this support from the ICAO Assembly.”

Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) Director General, Jeff Poole, said, “Air traffic management (ATM) is contributing significantly to the reduction of aviation emissions and thus reducing the need for carbon offsets. Welcome improvements are being achieved  through operational efficiencies such as: allowing aircraft to fly the most efficient and shortest flight path rather than fixed routes, and to fly at optimum altitude and speed over oceanic airspace; smoother arrival and departure flight profiles at airports; and reducing delays through collaborative decision making between ATM, airports and airlines.”

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac said, “Airlines are committed to improving environmental performance with improved technology, operations and infrastructure. The industry fully supports and encourages the adoption of a carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for international aviation (CORSIA) by the states attending the ICAO Assembly. It is a critical tool for our carbon neutral growth commitment and positive momentum is building among governments. Already a significant number of states have raised their hands to be early voluntary adopters. Aviation is the business of freedom. Agreeing CORSIA will play a key role in safeguarding air transport’s role in economic and social development, and ensure that future generations have the freedom to explore our beautiful planet sustainably.”

International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) Director General, Kurt Edwards, said, "Business aviation has renewed this year its 2009 Commitment on Climate Change. As part of a broader package of measures, including infrastructure modernisation, new technology, and operational improvements, a global carbon-offsetting scheme for international aviation will help the industry meet its goals. We join with our industry peers in encouraging States meeting at ICAO to agree on a global measure that is fair, proportionate, and administratively simple."

Chair of ICCAIA, David Melcher, the President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, said, “We are optimistic that a resolution on this critical agreement will be made at this year’s ICAO Assembly. In combination with other industry actions, including the continuous improvements in aircraft and engine efficiencies, operational improvements, and sustainable alternative fuels this historic plan is key to maintaining the sector’s trajectory of carbon neutral growth from 2020.”

As part of a campaign to encourage governments to support the scheme, ATAG has enlisted the voices of young aviation professionals from across the world in a series of video interviews. Michael Gill says: “the next generation of aviation leaders understand the important role early environmental action will play in securing the sector’s future. They look to the ICAO Assembly for leadership on this issue and so does the industry”. The videos can be seen at www.vimeo.com/AviationBenefits


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