State Action Plans to address international aviation emissions reductions prove a success story for ICAO
Wed 29 May 2013 – If market-based measures have proved a contentious issue at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), State Action Plans have become something of a success story for the UN agency’s climate change activities. Action plans are largely a product of ICAO Assembly Resolution A37-19 passed by the last Assembly in 2010 in which member states were encouraged to submit voluntary plans outlining their respective policies and actions to address CO2 emissions from international aviation. Since then, the ICAO Secretariat has conducted numerous workshops worldwide to guide and assist states in compiling their plans. The effort has paid off and as of last month 59 states have submitted action plans, representing over 77 per cent of international revenue tonne-kilometres (RTKs), with a further 23 states planning to submit plans before the end of the year.
Action plans are seen as a practical means for states to communicate to ICAO information on their activities to address CO2 emissions from international civil aviation. In their plans, states outline initiatives they plan to take from a ‘basket of measures’ such as aircraft-related technology development, more efficient operations, improved air traffic management and infrastructure use, regulatory measures, sustainable alternative fuels and market-based mechanisms.
The level of detail of the information contained in an action plan demonstrates the effectiveness of actions and will, says ICAO, ultimately enable it to measure global progress towards meeting the CO2 goals set by the 2010 Assembly.
“The success of each action plan relies first on the collaboration with different stakeholders: aviation and environmental authorities, airlines and airports, air navigation service providers, statistics departments, fuel providers and so on, and then collecting information from them,” says Jane Hupe, Chief of ICAO’s Environment Branch, in the latest edition of the ICAO Journal. “When you have all the stakeholders around the table you can ensure stronger action initiatives and as the various synergies between the different plans become apparent it helps create momentum. That’s the reason for the success of action plans.
“We had basically two years since the last Assembly to get this initiative up and running: to prepare guidance, to train states, to identify focal points. States have responded rapidly and are now developing their plans.”
By the time the expected plans from the 23 states are received, 92.16% of international RTKs will have been covered, says ICAO. Through hands-on training workshops, teleconferences and face-to-face meetings conducted by ICAO staff from its Montreal headquarters and regional offices, 91 states have so far been trained.
Of the 59 plans so far submitted, 21 can be downloaded from ICAO’s State Action Plan website page. Most are from states in the developed world but countries such as China, Sri Lanka and Trinidad & Tobago have allowed their action plans to be publicly available.
Despite the success to date, the ICAO Secretariat has identified where existing and new plans can be improved upon and is looking ahead to further activities over the next three years. Areas where further development is required include more robust data reporting on CO2 emissions by states and more information on the selected measures and their environmental benefits. ICAO is looking for greater use of the tools it has developed and states should in their submissions clearly identify where technical and funding support is needed. Further regional workshops are planned, which, says Blandine Ferrier, States Action Plan Coordinator, will be less theoretical and more practical, and states will be encouraged to submit and update their action plans by June 2015.
“We are looking now into ways of facilitating access to funding and at further means of improving the plans,” says Hupe. “I think this initiative will be instrumental in achieving our environmental goals.”