Tue 22 July 2014 – The design elements of a global market-based measure (GMBM) scheme to limit the growth of international emissions are slowly being pulled together by ICAO’s Environmental Advisory Group (EAG). Set up in March, the EAG comprises 17 representatives from the governing ICAO Council, with participation from an industry representative, and works in parallel with a Global MBM Technical Task Force (GMTF), an ICAO CAEP sub-group. The EAG is now developing the principles and details of a carbon offset global scheme based on a Strawman approach drawn up by the ICAO Secretariat. Strawman Version 1.0 was presented to the EAG in March and after five meetings it has now progressed to Version 1.1. Its contents up till now have been restricted to EAG members, although a recent Council meeting has agreed to enhance the transparency of EAG activities and the Strawman to CAEP members, observers and experts.
A call for closer cooperation and participation between the EAG and CAEP (Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection) processes has been accepted by the Council, in recognition of the significant amount of technical analyses required by the EAG. For example, in order to quantify the amount of emissions to be offset under a GMBM and the corresponding cost impacts, the volume of CO2 from international aviation has to be assessed from past years, for the reference year period from 2018 to 2020, and in future years up to 2035 and beyond. Analysis is also required to estimate adjustments for aircraft operators that are fast growers, early movers and new entrants.
Another task is to develop a list of all States in increasing order from the lowest to the highest amount of estimated emissions generated by all international flights to and from individual States, both in the past and predicted in the future. The EAG is considering a proposal for a phase-in method in which there would be different treatment of route groups, depending on the maturity of aviation markets. Threshold and technical exemptions of 10,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year and 5,700kg MTOM are also under consideration and estimates again required.
Although a number of GMBM systems have been studied in the past and all options remain open, a carbon offsetting scheme without an additional revenue generating mechanism is the basis for the Strawman approach and the GMTF has been undertaking work to propose the criteria for emission units that would be eligible for the scheme. Studies are being undertaken on how offsets might fit in with the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism. Industry representatives have highlighted a preference for aircraft operators to have access to the most cost-effective types of offset credits.
However, there has been a proposal – most likely from the Russian Federation, which opposes market-based measures – for the consideration of a global fuel levy instead, although this is not believed to be widely supported amongst EAG members. The Secretariat, nevertheless, has been asked to prepare a report on the advantages and disadvantages of such a levy.
Another decision taken at the last Council meeting was to postpone the convening of the Global Aviation Dialogues (GLADS) – regional meetings with stakeholders to open up the GMBM process – from this year until probably 2015, to allow for further development of the Strawman.
ICAO is holding an environment seminar, ‘Fueling Aviation with Green Technology’, in Montreal on September 9-10, which will address topics covering next-generation aircraft, research programmes, airplane recycling, green operations, eco-airports, clean energy for aviation, and financing. Additionally, the seminar will consider the main outcomes of last year’s Assembly relating to the environment and will serve as the basis for ICAO’s contribution to the UN Summit on Climate Change to be held later in September in New York.
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