The Aviation Blog

The global aviation industry recently submitted a Working Paper to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on what we feel is the best way forward for dealing with aviation’s climate impact. It comes as governments finalise their plans to meet in late September at the 38th ICAO Assembly. While this meeting will explore the whole range of issues effecting international civil aviation, perhaps the most closely-watched will be the topic of climate change and in particular the development of a global market-based measure.

There has obviously been a lot written about the approach the European Union took on this matter – the industry’s views on ETS and ‘stop the clock’ are well-known – but the aviation sector has played a practical and proactive role in pushing for a global deal to be done that might avoid a patchwork of inconsistent national and regional legislation around the world.

In June, the airline membership of the International Air Transport Association overwhelmingly supported a resolution on the way forward for dealing with aviation emissions at ICAO. This was followed by the world’s airports agreeing a resolution at Airports Council International’s annual meeting and a statement from the air traffic control community through their association CANSO. Following these, and joined by the manufacturers and business aviation sector, the whole global industry was able to develop a policy paper outlining our thoughts on a way forward for discussions at the ICAO Assembly in September.

The reactions to the industry’s proactive approach were mainly positive, including from the EU Commissioners for Climate Action and Transport and from US environmental groups. Brussels-based Transport & Environment welcomed the industry’s ‘departure from its historical position’ which was odd, considering our industry has held the same view on using global market-based measures since at least 2008. But it can at least be said that aviation is putting viable and constructive options on the table instead of sitting on the sidelines.

The whole paper can be found online. However, in short, the industry recommends that, as part of a comprehensive approach to address air transport’s climate impacts, a single global market-based measure (MBM) be agreed. The industry points out that any global MBM must be seen as part of a broader package of measures including new technology, more efficient operations and better use of infrastructure.

The industry believes that a simple carbon offsetting scheme would be the quickest to implement, the easiest to administer and the most cost-efficient (not to mention politically realistic at this stage).

The industry paper invites delegates at the ICAO Assembly to:

1) Agree a roadmap for development of a single global MBM for aviation to be implemented from 2020 that can be adopted at ICAO’s next Assembly in 2016.

2) Agree the principles for development of a global MBM, including:

  • the goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020;
  • that aviation emissions should only be accounted for once;
  • that a global MBM should take account of different types of operator activity.

3) Ask ICAO to develop, in the meantime, several milestones that could help build the foundation for a single global MBM, including:

  • an ICAO standard for monitoring, reporting and verifying emissions from aviation;

  • a mechanism to define the quality of verified offset types that could be used in a global MBM for aviation.

The ICAO Assembly will certainly be an interesting one to watch this year and while the politics might end up causing sleepless nights, it should be remembered that this is part of a process. Meanwhile, the industry continues to undertake an impressive range of emissions-reduction activities, from the well-regarded ACI Europe Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, to the various activities being undertaken under the SESAR and CleanSky projects to more tangible ‘on-the-ground’ projects. Afterall, while a global market-based measure is a key part of the industry’s strategy going forward, the $209 billion we paid for fuel last year is a constant reminder that efficiency helps both the environment and the bottom line.

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