The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the successful conclusion of a landmark two-week-long meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP). Most significantly, CAEP produced international consensus on guidance for states planning to incorporate international aviation into emissions trading schemes.

“Climate change is a global issue. And today’s outcome clearly demonstrates that global solutions are possible,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “The only way forward is with a harmonised approach. Kyoto specifically tasked ICAO to lead the aviation industry’s efforts in this crucial area. Today’s outcome provides an excellent technical reference for governments. I congratulate Roberto Kobeh González, President of the Council of ICAO, and all the CAEP participants for moving the industry forward on this important issue,” said Bisignani.

“We’re pleased that ICAO has echoed IATA’s call urging states not to jump the gun on emissions trading but to wait for the ICAO Assembly’s recommendations in September 2007. Unilateral action by states is not the answer. We need a global approach that provides a level playing field for airlines and avoids competitive distortions. It is critical that ICAO achieves consensus on the political issue of geographic scope at the September Assembly,” said Bisignani.

Bisignani also reminded governments that “emissions trading schemes are only one piece in the environmental puzzle. Efficiency must be our common vision in limiting the 2% of CO2 emissions attributed to aviation. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that there is 12% inefficiency in air traffic management globally. This means we produce up to 73 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year by aircraft flying inefficiently due to air traffic management limitations. This is not acceptable,” said Bisignani.

“Emissions trading schemes only make sense with efficient infrastructure. That means a whole package of measures starting with an effective Single European Sky, more direct routes and sufficient capacity to eliminate delays. Real results can be achieved. Last year, IATA’s efforts to optimise aircraft operations alone saved up to 15 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. Government commitment to environmental issues must go beyond emissions trading to investments in infrastructure and technology. And we must put an end to tax grabs made in the name of the environment. Environment is a serious issue, not an excuse to fill the cash register,” said Bisignani.