Mon 23 Sept 2013 – The ICAO draft resolution to be considered by the 38th Assembly later this week appears equivocal on whether to adopt a global market-based measure (MBM), leaving it to the 39th Assembly in 2016 to make a decision. However, environmental NGOs say that evidence shows early action must be taken to ensure the climate impact from rapidly increasing aviation emissions is minimised. In a submission to the Assembly by their representative body, the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA), they call for ICAO member states to agree now to develop a global MBM for adoption in 2015 and implementation in 2016. This would require the holding of an Extraordinary General Assembly in 2015, which although not unprecedented would be highly unusual.
The NGOs cite a recent study by Manchester Metropolitan University’s (MMU) Centre for Air Transport and the Environment, which showed a global MBM was the only feasible mechanism to close the ‘emissions gap’ between the growth in aviation emissions and the ability of technology to reduce them but that there was a critical importance for taking early action in its implementation. The study showed the real climate benefit of any action depends on the cumulative emission reductions between now and a future date, and not just on achieving a certain amount of reductions by a specific year. Early reductions result in a lower emissions trajectory than equivalent annual savings made at a later date, it found.
The ICSA paper requests ICAO States at the Assembly to formally commit to adopt in 2015 a global MBM for international aviation for implementation in 2016, four years earlier than the aviation industry is calling for under its carbon-neutral growth target (CNG2020). The Assembly resolution, says ICSA, should direct the ICAO Council to request ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) to develop and agree the many crucial details necessary to the proper functioning of a global MBM. “CAEP should be duly authorised and resourced with proper funding to complete the work in time for an Extraordinary General Assembly in 2015 which would pave the way for implementation in 2016,” it adds.
Brad Schallert, Senior Program Officer for International Climate Change Policy with WWF, told journalists last week in a conference call with other NGOs: “We need action now. The sooner we act, the more of a chance we will have of [global warming] staying under two degrees Celsius, which is confirmed in MMU’s research. That’s why we’re calling for adoption in 2015, and swiftly implemented a year afterwards in 2016.”
Annie Petsonk, International Counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) said it was important that industry was given a long lead time to prepare for a global scheme.
“Obviously we would like the emissions caps to start as early as possible,” she said. “If they can’t start as soon as 2016, as we would like, having the rules established and the mechanism take effect right away, even if the caps don’t start until 2020, which is not our preferred approach, it would still allow for early reductions to begin to occur.
“As outlined under IATA’s Cape Town AGM resolution earlier this year and as recognised in the ICAO draft resolution, early movers can be encouraged and incentivised for their actions.”
According to an ICAO insider, there have been a few Extraordinary General Assemblies over the decades, the most relevant taking place over an aircraft noise issue in 1990 following the failure of the 1989 Assembly to reach agreement on the phase-out of Chapter 2 aircraft. “The problem is that even if ICSA gets support – and as ICAO Observers, their own paper will not even be discussed in substance without two State delegations endorsing – the funding requirements for an Extraordinary Session would almost certainly rule it out,” he said. “Given that it is a new idea, the not insignificant cost would have to be added in short order through Assembly action to the already largely determined budget for the next three years.”
Saudi Arabia is calling for the Assembly to take place every two years instead of the current three but the proposal has already been rejected by the ICAO Council and has little chance of adoption.
Although the NGOs wish to see a global MBM implemented as a matter of urgency, it believes national and regional MBMs are essential tools in the interim period before a global scheme takes effect, or beyond in the absence of a global MBM.
“The alternative, namely neither action at a State level nor a global MBM taking effect, cannot be supported,” says the ICSA paper, which also condemns the “unacceptably low coverage” of emissions limited by sovereign airspace, as provided for under the draft ICAO resolution.
“If there is to be any reference to national or regional MBMs, then from an environmental perspective it must be based on either departing flights or a ’50-50’ approach representing 50% of arriving flights and 50% of departing flights,” it adds. “For the 38th Assembly to conclude that States could only act within their airspace nine years after it had already recommended that States could implement emissions trading systems represents no progress on this issue.”
ICSA Working Paper on MBMs
ICAO 38th Assembly draft resolution on climate change
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