IATA Applauds ICAO Agreement on Aviation and Climate Change

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) applauded the 190 contracting states of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on achieving the first global governmental agreement with aspirational goals to stabilize carbon emissions. The achievement was formalized in a resolution of the 37th ICAO Assembly, which concluded its deliberations in Montreal today.

Governments have taken an historic decision. For the first time, we have globally agreed aspirational goals to stabilize emissions. No other industry sector has a similar globally agreed framework for managing its response to climate change in a manner that takes into consideration the needs of both developed and developing states. Moreover, it recognizes the need for governments and industry to work together. This is a good first step that prepares the way for future achievements, said Giovanni Bisignani, IATAs Director General and CEO.

The ICAO Resolution

The ICAO resolution calls for:

  • Improving fuel efficiency by 2% annually to 2050
  • Striving to achieve a collective medium-term aspirational goal of capping aviations carbon emissions from 2020
  • A global CO2 standard for aircraft engines with a target date of 2013
The ICAO resolution also calls for the development of a global framework on market based (economic) measures by the 38th Assembly (2013) based on 15 agreed principles. These principles are designed to:
  • Minimize market distortions
  • Safeguard the fair treatment of aviation relative to other sectors
  • Ensure that aviations emissions are accounted for only once and
  • Recognize both past and future efforts of carriers

Closing the Gap with Industry

In 2007, IATA announced a vision for aviation to achieve carbon-neutral growth on the way to a carbon-free future with a four-pillar strategy based on technology investments, efficient infrastructure, effective operations and positive economic measures. In 2009, IATAs membership committed to three goals: a 1.5% average annual improvement in fuel efficiency to 2020, capping net emissions with carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and cutting net emissions in half by 2050 compared to 2005.

The global aviation industry united around this approach, putting aviation at the forefront of industrial sectors responding to climate change. The four-pillar strategy and targets are not just airline commitments. The entire aviation industryairlines, airports, air navigation service providers and manufacturershave made a common commitment that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon commended as a role model for others to follow. Aviation takes its environmental responsibility seriously. With todays agreement, governments have taken a significant step in support of the industrys ambitions, said Bisignani.

Bisignani addressed the gap in the industrys commitment to a 1.5% average annual improvement in fuel efficiency and the ICAO goal of a 2% annual improvement. We are confident that achieving a 1.5% average annual improvement in fuel efficiency is possible with efforts of the industry. The 2% ICAO goal means that governments must come to the table with much needed infrastructure improvements such as the Single European Sky or NextGen in the US, said Bisignani.

Next Steps

The agreements principles on market based measures have implications for all governments with, or seeking to implement, environmental schemes or taxes. In light of this agreement, all states should review any economic measures, planned or implemented, to conform to todays agreed principles. The only effective long-term solution remains a global approach, which states agreed to work towards under ICAOs leadership, said Bisignani.

We must recognize that a long journey still lies ahead. Industrys ambitious targets are still ahead of governments. Our commitment to cut emissions in half by 2050 compared to 2005 remains the global benchmark. The entire aviation industry is committed to working under the leadership of ICAO as we move forward to achieve both the aspirations outlined in todays agreement and the industrys targets. We will take this strong message to the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun later this year, said Bisignani.

In addition to this global agreement on environment, the ICAO Assembly marked notable progress with a global declaration on security and a milestone agreement on sharing safety information among IATA, ICAO, the EU and the United States. I congratulate the ICAO leadership for their hard work and leading role within the UN system. President Roberto Kobeh Gonzáles, Secretary General Raymond Benjamin, and Assembly President Harold Demuren have concluded a landmark Assembly with major achievements on the industrys top priorities of safety, security and environmental leadership.

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