Omission of international aviation from Paris climate agreement a vote of confidence, says ICAO President
ICAO Council President Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu
Wed 16 Dec 2015 – The fact that international aviation was not covered by the Paris Agreement reached at COP21 last Saturday (Dec 12) is a vote of confidence in the progress ICAO and the aviation community have made towards ambitious climate goals, according to ICAO Council President Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu. ICAO Secretary General Dr Fang Liu said the COP21 process and outcome represented a major accomplishment for the world and aviation, and 2016 would be “a very big year” for environmental issues at ICAO, with progress expected on the global market-based measure (MBM) and aircraft CO2 standard. The Paris Agreement will provide additional momentum to the MBM negotiations, said IATA Director General Tony Tyler. EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said the EU had fought hard to have the sector included in the Agreement and was concerned by the slow pace of the MBM development.
In response to the Paris outcome, ICAO said that rather than including international aviation in the Agreement, COP21 had invited ICAO to continue to report progress on its environmental programme to future sessions of the UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA).
“COP21 has been a great success for our planet and for civil society, but of course its process did not end with the concluding of its agreement,” said Dr Aliu in an ICAO statement. “Every State and every global industrial sector must now redouble their efforts towards achieving substantial progress on emissions reduction if the COP21 legacy is to be achieved, and the civil aviation community is no exception.”
The agreement would provide further momentum towards achieving an agreement on the MBM at ICAO’s 39th Assembly later next year, he added. The Assembly will consider a recommendation for an MBM scheme addressing its main design elements and related implementation mechanisms from 2020. The MBM is a key aspect of the aviation community’s global response to climate change, said ICAO.
The UN agency said COP21 had supported a Declaration from ICAO’s 36-State Governing Council (see article), “which emphasised that it would continue to provide the necessary leadership, through ICAO, on all environmental issues relating to international civil aviation.”
Dr Aliu and ICAO Secretary General Dr Fang Liu both attended COP21, along with representatives from ICAO’s Environmental Protection team, and undertook more than 20 bilateral meetings with heads of governments and international organisations.
Said Dr Liu: “2016 will be a very big year for our sector and the environment, not only with respect to the MBM progress we expect at our Assembly, but also on a new global CO2 certification standard for aircraft that should soon be completed.
“We look forward to making further progress with our States by providing tailored assistance and capacity building where needed, and through further and concerted cooperation, I am sure aviation will continue to play an important role in helping the world to achieve a sustainable future.”
During a visit to India to attend an airports conference that took place during the COP21 fortnight, Dr Liu met with India’s Secretary of the Environment, Ashok Lavasa. “Dr Liu was grateful to learn of India’s willingness to join global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and of its optimism about a successful outcome in the negotiations at Paris,” said an ICAO statement. “She also suggested that India could play a proactive role through the ICAO Council to help its States reach consensus on an MBM for international aviation in advance of the next Assembly.”
Providing an airline sector response to the successful conclusion over the weekend, IATA Director General Tony Tyler said: “IATA welcomes the historic COP21 Paris Agreement, which will provide additional momentum to governments for the negotiations at ICAO on an aviation emissions agreement that are expected to conclude next year.
“The aviation industry, through ICAO, is working towards securing its goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020, and the positive outcome of the Paris conference gives more impetus to governments to achieve this.”
EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, the EU’s lead negotiator at COP21, told reporters on Monday (Dec 14) the EU “had fought to the last moment” to have international aviation and shipping included in the Paris Agreement. However, even though they were not mentioned in the Agreement, the emissions from the two sectors would have to be included in the overall long-term global climate goals reached in Paris, he said.
On the MBM, he said: “We are concerned about the slow pace of the negotiations at ICAO. We are going to press with other parties to find a solution because if we don’t have a market measure then we will have a real problem.
“We have stopped the clock [on the inclusion of extra-EU flights in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme] but if nothing happens we will have to relook at the legislation and have an open debate with the European Parliament, and then we will have to take a decision. We are working for the best outcome of the global measure but if there is no movement on the measure then we will have a big problem and it will need to have an internal solution.”
German MEP Peter Liese, the European Parliament’s spokesperson on climate change and also rapporteur on the inclusion of aviation into the EU ETS, said he regretted international aviation and shipping had not been given concrete reduction targets.
“There is no explanation why we demand from energy intensive industries like steel, cement or chemicals to play their role in climate protection while we leave aviation and shipping out, and ICAO does not seriously negotiate about reducing emissions,” he said. “We need to put a lot more pressure on ICAO now. Everyone has to do something.”