Government negotiators receive encouragement from aviation industry leaders

Montreal, 10 May 2016 – A High Level Meeting being convened by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on 11 May received executive-level support from the aviation industry today, as leaders representing all parts of the sector encouraged governments to progress their deliberations on a global carbon offsetting scheme for air transport.

The ICAO discussions have been gathering pace since the UN specialised aviation agency agreed to the development of an economic mechanism at its Assembly in 2013. The next such meeting, in September this year, will decide on the design of the scheme in which CO2 emissions growth from 2020 is offset through the international carbon markets, effectively capping the growth in international aviation emissions. It is seen as part of a basket of measures to tackle aviation’s CO2 emissions, alongside new technology, use of sustainable alternative fuel, improved operations and more efficient infrastructure.

At today’s Global Sustainable Aviation Forum, timed to support the intergovernmental talks, Executive Director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), Michael Gill, said: “We are now less than five months away from the crucial ICAO Assembly, at which industry hopes governments will agree to go ahead with the global offsetting scheme. We have come a long way and made impressive progress. But key negotiating points remain and we encourage our government colleagues to spend the next few days ironing out any remaining differences at the ICAO High Level Meeting.”

Following technical and political discussions, ICAO developed a proposal for a global offsetting scheme, which was presented to States in January. Consultations have taken place since then through regional education and outreach sessions. The High Level Meeting starting tomorrow is expected to make further progress, but sticking points such as differentiation between developing and developed economies remain.

Gill commented, “These discussions were never going to be easy – this is the first time any sector has attempted such a global mechanism. But the industry is fully behind the plan, as evidenced by an open letter sent to governments from 28 industry chief executives in September last year. We have followed that today with a Communiqué from the Global Sustainable Aviation Forum, outlining the industry’s thoughts on the process.”

The Communiqué emphasised:

  • the need for an ‘aviation’ solution that tries to avoid market distortion with a single, global, mechanism for air transport;
  • that a global mechanism is preferable from a cost perspective to a patchwork of different measures;
  • that, despite current questions on the complexity of implementing a scheme, the aviation sector is used to more complex regulations and it would soon become a normal part of the business;
  • the fact that the offsetting scheme was just one part of a series of measures needed to help aviation reduce its climate change impact.

The Communiqué is available here and summarises interventions from the following aviation industry leaders (their full speeches are available here):

ACI Director General, Angela Gittens, said, “The aviation industry is as one in our commitment to tackling climate change. Our goals, originally set out at ATAG’s 2008 Aviation and Environment Summit, are ambitious and a globally agreed set of offsetting rules is vital to our continued unified progress on CO2 emissions reduction. We applaud ICAO for the work it has done to date and look forward to the positive outcome of tomorrow’s High Level Meeting, marking a significant next step in aviation’s world-leading climate change activities.”

CANSO Director General, Jeff Poole, said, “As well as carbon offsetting, all parts of the industry have important roles to play in climate change actions. Improvements in air traffic management are helping to reduce emissions through measures such as performance-based navigation, air traffic flow management, shortening of routes and more flexible routings.”

IATA Director General and CEO, Tony Tyler said, “Airlines are determined to do the right thing in mitigating their climate change impact. And we are counting on the 191 member states of ICAO to enable that important result by reaching an agreement later this year on a global market based measure.”

IBAC Director General, Kurt Edwards, said, "IBAC supports ICAO’s work to address carbon emissions. With more than 17,000 business aircraft operators around the world, we encourage ICAO to develop a global MBM that is simple, reasonable, and fair for all stakeholders."

Chair of ICCAIA, David Melcher, the President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, said, “We are optimistic that the ICAO Assembly will agree to a global market-based measure for operators. The measure will complement the four items that comprise our climate change improvement actions – technology, operations, infrastructure, and alternative fuel development and deployment. The recent agreement made on civil aircraft CO2 emissions illustrates that government, industry and NGOs can come together under ICAO and achieve a significant first-of-a-kind standard.”