COP28 energy transition outcome welcomed by aviation sector

DUBAI, 13 December 2023 – The outcome of COP28 in Dubai has been welcomed by the Executive Director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group, Haldane Dodd, who said: “The call by countries meeting at the UN to ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels by 2050 is in line with our expectations of the aviation energy transition. Although the COP28 language could be stronger, it does send a clear signal that change is coming. At the ICAO Assembly last year and in discussions at the ICAO CAAF/3 meeting a few weeks ago in Dubai, this transition towards sustainable aviation fuels was shown to be a vital part of aviation’s own net zero pathways. The COP28 UAE Consensus outcome shows that all parts of the global economy must follow the same trajectory. Although aviation has more challenges for decarbonisation than many other sectors, we are an industry that is committed to meeting this goal and are already delivering what is needed so that governments can set the right policies for sustainable aviation fuel deployment. The finance sector and energy industry must also to join this collective effort.”

COP28 was not able to deliver in one area of importance to air transport. The ‘Article 6’ discussions, which define the operational rules of global carbon markets post-2020, originated in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Eight years later, governments are still negotiating this technical element. For aviation, the development of a robust, transparent and functioning global carbon market is an important feeder of the offsets which will be needed as part of the ICAO Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). CORSIA requires aircraft operators to use offsets from 2024, so the lack of progress on Article 6 is of concern to the aviation sector.

Dodd said: “The failure of governments meeting at COP28 to operationalise Article 6 is disappointing, these discussions should be technical in nature and not political. ICAO will continue to access programmes that generate CORSIA credits, but without the full operationalisation of Article 6, the credits remain on paper but not in the carbon market for transaction. In the meantime, bilateral arrangements between countries to authorise Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes (ITMOs) under Article 6 are a positive step, which will ensure that CORSIA compliance can start to take place for aircraft operators. But the finalisation of Article 6 discussions and the operationalisation of its full mechanism will help provide liquidity and strengthen the carbon markets, which should enhance environmental integrity. This would allow aircraft operators to further support out-of-sector climate mitigation measures across the world as we work on scaling up other in-sector aviation measures such as SAF and new aircraft technologies.”