Meeting of ICAO States to discuss environmental activities ends with lack of consensus over MBMs
Fri 27 Sept 2013 – At a meeting yesterday morning to discuss ICAO’s environmental protection programme, there was broad support among Member States for its work on alternative fuels, State action plans and assistance to States. However, most of the afternoon meeting was devoted to the controversial paragraphs on market-based measures in the draft climate change resolution before the Assembly (WP/34). Although there was a call by a majority of States for a consensus to be formed around the compromise text agreed by the ICAO Council, the Organisation’s governing body, there was considerable opposition to two paragraphs (17 and 18) relating to national and regional interim MBM schemes and a de minimis provision that would see 160-odd developing countries exempted from such schemes. There was also a call from major developing countries for more recognition of the UNFCCC principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities.
Given the level of disagreements, the Chairman of the meeting, who is also the President of the 38th Assembly, Ambassador Michel Wachenheim of France, said he would hold informal bilateral consultations this afternoon (Fri 27) and tomorrow with key groups of States to seek a consensus. Further meetings are expected early next week with a view to drafting improvements to the existing draft resolution, which would then be presented to the Assembly next Wednesday (Oct 2). The Assembly closes next Friday (Oct 4) and it will be keen not to have a re-run of the previous Assembly in 2010 when a lack of consensus over the same resolution was only resolved on the final day (see article).
At the meeting, which packed the conference hall, there was broad support from the 44 European States for the draft resolution to be kept in its present form, with qualified support from South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and a number of Latin American countries. The African States, which have formed a unified position over the resolution, largely supported it as long as the de minimis paragraph (18), which exempts developing States with an RTK share of less than 1% of the global total from interim MBM schemes, was kept.
The United States is seriously concerned over the de minimis exemption because of the precedent it would set and takes the line that it should be applied to operators and not States (see Reuters article). Other countries that expressed misgivings yesterday with the exemption included Canada, Japan and New Zealand.
Russia, China, Brazil and India, with backing from a range of countries including South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, are unhappy with national or regional MBM schemes – which would therefore include the EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) – being implemented prior to a global scheme. Some said such schemes should only be applied by mutual agreement and not unilaterally, and the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) of developing nations must be observed.
Saudi Arabia said the draft resolution was skewed in favour of developed countries and called for the EU to carry out studies on the economic impact of its scheme on developing countries before proceeding further. India’s representative said regional MBM schemes, in a reference to the EU ETS, would create a patchwork of retaliatory moves and the country was against the airspace approach as it created legal issues.
Australia, which has a new government in power and is due to drop its domestic carbon tax, said it did not oppose ICAO work on MBMs but would only offer its support under a number of conditions and was opposed to unilateral action in the meantime.
The meeting’s Chairman concluded that there was no dispute over the need to reduce aviation emissions and that ICAO was the relevant forum, but acknowledged there were diverging views on MBMs.