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Fact Sheet: Global Sectoral Approach for Addressing Aviation Carbon Emissions

The airline industry has a tremendous track record of environmental improvement achieved through continual investments in technology, operations and infrastructure. The industry recognizes the need to further reduce its CO2 emissions. This can only be achieved through

  • A global sectoral approach to address aviation carbon emissions  
  • A comprehensive approach with commitments from all industry stakeholders, including governments
  • Establishing the right legal and financial frameworks to promote investment in new technologies and sustainable biojet fuels
  • Governments making the necessary investments and reforms to optimize and modernize air traffic management

Why a Global Sectoral Approach?

  • Aviation is a global industry. For a typical flight, CO2 will be emitted over several different countries, over international waters and even different continents
  • While it is simple for governments to account for emissions from fixed sources within their borders, doing this with mobile sources such as aircraft used in international aviation is more complex
  • Article 2.2 of the Kyoto Protocol recognized this by directing states to address emissions from international aviation through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
  • Aviation emissions should continue to be dealt with through ICAO at a global level. Unilateral or extra-territorial regulations are not the way to go
  • A patchwork of local measures will lead to an unnecessary and unsustainable increase in administrative and reporting requirements; it may also lead to incompatibilities between the different regimes, both in terms of monitoring methodologies and emissions covered

Principles of a Global Sectoral Approach

The Industry agrees that a global market-based measure for aviation should meet the following principles:

  • Market-based measures (MBMs) for aviation should only be considered as part of a broader package of measures to address aviation’s CO2 emissions that cannot otherwise be achieved through cost-effective, in-sector reduction measures.
  • MBMs should not be designed or used to raise general revenues or to suppress demand for air travel.
  • Given the globally competitive nature of the aviation industry, any MBM agreed by governments must be cost-efficient and preserve fair competition.
  • Any MBM for aviation must fulfil the key criteria of maximizing environmental integrity, while minimizing competitive distortion and administrative complexity.
  • When agreeing to an MBM for aviation, only governments can decide whether to take into account – and, if so, how – the Special Circumstances and Respective Capabilities of States (SCRC). However, if they choose to do so, it should be done in such a way as to minimize market distortion by granting equal treatment to all operators on a given route.
  • Any MBM to operationalize CNG2020 should be easy to implement and administer as well as cost-efficient. The industry believes that alignment with this principle would be better achieved with a single mandatory carbon offsetting scheme than with alternative schemes.

ICAO work on a Global Sectoral Approach

  • The 38th Session of the ICAO Assembly decided to develop a global MBM scheme for international aviation.
  • The Assembly requested the ICAO Council to finalize the work on the technical aspects, environmental and economic impacts and modalities of the possible options for a global MBM scheme. The results of the work of the Council will be reported to the next Assembly in 2016 for decision.
  • Three options for a global MBM were under consideration at ICAO: offsetting, offsetting with revenues and emissions trading. Of the three, a simple carbon offsetting scheme would be the easiest to administer, quickest to implement and the most cost-efficient
  • The Assembly also resolved that, when states design new or implement existing national/regional MBMs, they should engage in constructive consultations and negotiations with other states and exempt routes to/from developing countries under a threshold of 1% of total international RTKs.

Updated: December 2013

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