Fri 20 Dec 2013 – Following their success at the ICAO Assembly in mobilising wide support from developing countries over market-based measures (MBMs), a joint proposal by the BRIC states – Brazil, Russia, India and China – that ICAO sets up a group to take charge of the development of a global MBM has been approved in principle by the governing ICAO Council. This new body, the Environment Advisory Group (EAG), would report directly to the Council and have a broader representation than previous groups looking at the MBM issue. The terms of reference and tasks for the EAG will be drawn up and presented at the next Council meeting.
The approval of the EAG marks a powerful shift away from the developed states such as Europe and the United States towards the developing world and will significantly define the work of ICAO over the next three years in the development of a global MBM. The aim of the proposal is to ensure the complete participation of all ICAO Member States, the majority of which are from the developing world, in the process.
The UNFCCC principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), in which the burden for mitigating carbon emissions falls on the developed world, would be integrated into any global scheme, according to the BRIC proposal. CBDR wording was adopted into the Assembly climate change resolution (A38-18) following BRIC pressure, resulting in formal objections from Europe, the US and other developed states.
In the executive summary, the EAG proposers note that since 2006 there had been little other than polarised disagreement within the Council and the Assembly on MBMs.
“As such, it is now time to take a step forward towards the development of global MBMs in accordance with A38-18,” they said, adding that a change was required to the process and manner. “In view of its political nature, it is not recommended that the issues continue to be dealt with in the same manner, i.e. in a secretariat-driven process.”
The new group, they suggest, should consist of Council members, taking into account equal geographic representation. Other Council members and non-Council representatives could also participate in the group, with observers invited from industry, NGOs and other bodies. The proposers recommend a mechanism for direct consultation with ICAO States in order that the interests of all States were represented, “since their involvement is crucial to the success of the 39th Assembly.”
Under the proposal, ICAO’s environmental protection committee, CAEP, which is expected to work on technical issues associated with developing a global MBM, would report to the EAG and not, as would be the usual case, to the Council.
The BRIC proposal lays out a number of tasks to be undertaken by the EAG:
- Create a set of selection criteria for possible global MBM options and their possible environmental and economic impacts, as well as practicability of global introduction and forecasted period of existence;
- Study the feasibility and practicability of the options including technical aspects, environmental and financial impacts to both developed and developing countries;
- Study other options such as taxes or fuel or carbon charges that might also attain the same objectives;
- Integrate the concept of CBDR and Special Circumstances and Respective Capabilities (SCRC) into the global MBM scheme that would enable assistance to developing States;
- Report to the Council on the selection result in order to initiate a consultation process with Member States to identify the major issues and problems and suggest appropriate means to address them;
- Review the replies from Member States and, in case of a positive result, to prepare a final report for the Council, which would contain an assessment of possible MBMs, their global introduction and basic provisions.
A controversial aspect of the proposal, is that it sets out conditions “for the successful outcome of the group’s work”, which appear aimed at Europe. All Member States, they say, are to follow the Assembly A38-18 resolution “in letter and spirit”, not to include without consent any State(s) in their national or regional MBM schemes until a global MBM comes into force, and to ensure all existing MBMs or carbon tax schemes, where implemented, will expire before the global MBM comes into force.
The ICAO Council has asked the President, to be assisted by the Secretary General, to present a paper at the next Council session relating to the establishment of the EAG. An action plan to implement the wider A38-18 resolution is also to be presented at the same session.
It was also decided that environment-related issues would no longer be considered by the Air Transport Committee and would instead be brought directly to the Council.
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