Aviation industry and NGOs press case to ICAO States on the need for a market measure to meet emissions targets
Fri 1 May 2015 – The series of Global Aviation Dialogues (GLADs) held by ICAO in its five world regions during the past month had the aim of consulting with Member States over the design of a global market-based measure (GMBM) to address CO2 emissions from international aviation. However, there was a strong representation from the aviation industry and environmental groups at the events, both sides pressing the case for the introduction of a global scheme to mitigate the growing climate impact of the sector. “This is a crucially important issue for the industry and an MBM is an integral part of our overall strategy,” IATA Senior Vice President Paul Steele told delegates to the Madrid GLAD. Despite a general lack of understanding over MBMs, he said, the GLADs had been a very constructive and positive process, with a lot of progress made.
Steele said the industry wanted regulation through a GMBM for two reasons. “Firstly, it will help us reach the climate goals we have set, which are closely aligned with those of ICAO, and as an industry that works to global standards, we also need one global measure instead of a patchwork of initiatives by States that in the end do not serve the environment or the aviation sector.”
He said the GLADs process had brought home the need for better communication on the issue, both by industry and ICAO. “We would be very happy to support ICAO in getting information out there.”
Now the GLADs were over, it was time to narrow down the options on the GMBM, he said, adding: “We in industry don’t have all the answers but we are concerned with how this process develops and we want a sensible outcome and work with governments to promote the sustainable growth of aviation in the future.”
Tim Johnson of the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA), an umbrella group of environmental NGOs attached to ICAO, said there was an alignment with industry on the objective of the need to reduce emissions. “Without an MBM, it will be very difficult to meet the targets set at ICAO,” he said, adding that such a measure must have environmental integrity, otherwise it would lose credibility with an outside audience concerned with the wider climate change issue. It was necessary, he said, for a careful balance to be struck between keeping an MBM simple and cost-effective to operate with one that was hard to implement and lacked support.
He too said there was need for better communication over the GMBM process. “We see it as our role as NGOs, together with industry, to talk to States about the issues and why the MBM is so important, and how it can meet the objectives as we move towards a decision in 2016,” he said.
In an earlier presentation, Michael Gill, Director of the industry’s Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), said a global measure ought to be guided by four principles and should:
Not be used to raise general revenue or suppress demand for air travel;
Maximise environmental integrity and be cost-effective;
Minimise competitive distortion; and
Be easy to implement and administer.
The industry’s preference was for a mandatory carbon offsetting MBM, he told delegates, as it would be the fastest to implement, easiest to administer and the most cost-efficient, adding that there was already considerable airline experience through voluntary passenger offsetting schemes.
Gill reiterated the industry’s commitment to the GMBM process and its confidence in a successful outcome. Significant progress had been made in the various groups set up in ICAO to deal with the issue, he said. “We have been very impressed with the level of discussion and engagement with States,” he said. “We have seen this again during the past three-week period through the course of the GLADs.”
Speaking to GreenAir after the Madrid event, he said the format of including roundtable discussion groups that gave an opportunity for delegates to exchange ideas and information on an informal basis had been a major contributory factor in the success of the GLADs. “ICAO is to be congratulated on this – I certainly haven’t seen this in an ICAO context before,” he said. “A lot of the positive messages that have come out of all five meetings have been as a result of the format chosen by the Secretariat.”