Industry backs ICAO leadership in call for COP 15 to deliver a global agreement on international aviation emissions
Thu 10 Dec 2009 – As the Copenhagen climate change summit nears the end of its first week, airline and airport representatives have called on delegates and governments to back the aviation industry’s environmental goals and its global sectoral approach to reducing aviation emissions. At an official side meeting held by the International Civil Aviation Organization on Tuesday, ICAO President Roberto Kobeh González said that consensus building and cooperation among the 190 Member States of the agency and the sustained efforts of the air transport industry had resulted in “remarkable progress” in reducing the impact of engine emissions over the past 40 years. Speaking at the same event, IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani said the industry was ahead of its own regulators in its approach to climate change.
Kobeh said that since October, ICAO Member States had reached agreement on further reducing aviation’s impact on climate change, which would be submitted to the ICAO Assembly in the autumn of next year, and had adopted a global framework on the development and implementation of alternative fuels for aviation worldwide.
“Under ICAO’s leadership, aviation has produced the first, and to date, only globally-harmonized agreement designed to address climate change on a global basis from a specific sector and ICAO is in the best position to effectively and systematically address the impact of international aircraft emissions on climate change,” he said. “We look to the outcome of COP 15 to deliver an agreement that acknowledges the importance of all States working through ICAO towards the achievement of environmentally sustainable aviation.
“According to the IPCC fourth assessment report, total CO2 emissions from the aviation sector account for approximately 2% of global emissions from human activity, about 60% of which is related to international air travel. The projected growth in public demand for air transport in the years to come could exceed our capability to limit the impact of air travel on climate change unless we continue this progressive course of developing and implementing bold and effective solutions.
“Based on the tangible global results the ICAO process has achieved thus far, I am convinced that the best approach to effectively addressing aviation climate effects is by the States of the world working through the global forum that is ICAO to further develop an environmentally sustainable international aviation system.”
ICAO Member States have so far not backed the aviation industry’s call for a global sectoral approach – limiting themselves to a Programme of Action – but IATA’s Bisignani urged governments to support the UN agency. “The only way that we can meet our targets is by working in cooperation with governments through ICAO,” he said. “I call on governments in Copenhagen to give ICAO a clear mandate to report back to COP 16 with a Global Sectoral Approach that will enable the aviation industry to deliver real results against concrete targets.”
Bisignani laid out the three main elements to the industry proposals:
·full accounting for aviation’s emissions as a global industrial sector, not by state;
·global coordination of economic measures to ensure that aviation will not pay more than once for its emissions; and
·access to global carbon markets.
He said such an approach through ICAO would ensure a level playing field and could accommodate the needs of developed and developing nations. “A good precedent is when ICAO tackled the tough issue of noise, working with the industry. We set global standards that accommodated the needs of developed and developing nations. Today, air transport is 75% quieter than four decades ago. Working together in a similar way, we can meet our environmental challenges,” said Bisignani.
Airports Council International (ACI) has endorsed ICAO’s Programme of Action that it is putting forward at COP 15.
“ICAO has consolidated carbon reduction data from all aviation partners in order to propose a realistic and achievable set of targets – one of the few industrial sectors to do so at COP 15,” commented ACI Director General Angela Gittens. “We are not simply following an imposed agenda. We are setting targets and making progress in a measurable and responsible way. These efforts constitute a fundamental building block of achieving a sustainable vision for aviation.”
Added Gittens: “The ICAO programme embodies our industry’s collective determination to ensure that aviation will continue to deliver the economic and social benefits to the communities we serve. We firmly believe in charting a path that balances our commitment to environmental targets with continued growth. ‘Green growth’ lies at the core of global economic health and stability. Airports will continue to work at achieving this vision of sustainable aviation.”
The French aviation sector has also called on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) “to include international aviation in a specific agreement that is consistent with the global nature of our activity, under the aegis of ICAO”.
A statement issued by Air France, Aéroports de Paris, GIFAS (French aerospace manufacturers), FNAM (French commercial aviation) and UAF (French airports) said the French sector had undertaken to meet the commitments put forward this week in Copenhagen by their international associations.
“This global industry approach is without precedent,” said the statement. “This commitment results from a combination of European and international initiatives which reflect the air transport sector’s determination to assume its responsibilities. A global approach is also necessary. Recommending solutions on a purely regional level would lead to biased competition among airlines and to transferring CO2 emissions from one sector to another, without any benefit to the climate.”
The French signatories said it was essential that in order to achieve the aviation industry’s targets to control its emissions, investment was needed in new technology, infrastructure had to be optimized and there had to be recourse to financial instruments such as emissions trading permits.
Speaking to GreenAir Online at the UK Airports Association annual conference this week, British Airways CEO Willie Walsh said: “The industry has given politicians a ready-made solution and I think it’s a very credible plan which can be delivered on. It addresses the impact of our industry on the global climate. Unlike other industries, we’ve actually come forward with a solution.
“The great thing about the airline industry is that we recognize we must do better. We are putting forward a credible and aggressive plan to demonstrate that we will do better, and to achieve those targets we will have to put our money where our mouth is. We will do it through significant investment by airlines in new aircraft and we will play our part in R&D into alternative fuels.
“The industry speaking with one voice is a great achievement on the part of IATA and I’m pleased we’ve got a strong presence in Copenhagen. Giovanni Bisignani has done an excellent job and I’m optimistic we’ll get a good result.”