New York - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) presented its proposals for December’s climate change talks to the UN Secretary General’s Summit on Climate Change in New York. The forum takes place in the run-up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Copenhagen this December. The aviation sector is united in calling on world leaders to retain a global sectoral approach to reducing aviation emissions under the leadership of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), working in cooperation with the sector through IATA.

“Climate change is a global problem. Aviation is a global industry. And we need a global approach for this industrial sector if we are to deal with climate change effectively,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“Mechanisms designed for ground-based polluters will not work effectively for aviation which can emit CO2 across borders and over the high seas even on a single flight. And already uncoordinated national and regional schemes are creating a patchwork of punitive taxes that fill government coffers, but do little or nothing to effectively manage aviation’s emissions,” said Bisignani.

“The Kyoto Protocol directed states to address aviation through ICAO. Its global standards and cooperation with industry have made air transport the safest form of travel. A global sectoral approach for aviation can leverage this same leadership to deliver results for aviation and the environment,” said Bisignani.

The aviation industry presented a paper outlining the industry’s commitment to three sequential targets.

1. Improving carbon efficiency with a 1.5% average annual improvement in fuel efficiency to 2020
2. Stabilizing emissions with carbon-neutral growth from 2020
3. Emissions reductions with a 50% absolute cut in emissions by 2050 compared to 2005

“Our targets are tough. Air transport is the first industry to commit to carbon-neutral growth at the global level. And we have done it with an aggressive timeline of 2020. Our four-pillar strategy of technology investment, efficient infrastructure, effective operations and positive economic measures will make our vision a reality and is already showing results. Aviation’s emissions are expected to fall 7% in 2009 - 5% as a result of the recession and 2% directly related to the strategy. IATA’s ‘Green Teams’ have saved 34 million tonnes of CO2 through operational efficiencies since 2005; our work on improving infrastructure, including shortening air routes, has saved a similar amount of CO2 since 2004. But our success depends on governments playing their part. They must implement more effective air traffic management: the introduction of NextGen air traffic management in the USA and the Single European Sky in Europe have the potential to save 41 million tonnes of CO2 annually. Governments must also create the legal and fiscal framework to support the development of sustainable biofuels for aviation,” said Bisignani.

The paper also outlined guiding principles to ensure that the global sectoral approach results in emissions reductions, retains funds for investment in environmental initiatives for aviation, preserves a level playing field, provides access to global carbon markets and ensures that airlines cover the environmental cost of their emissions.

“Aviation is unique in its ability to move globally as a sector - from safety to e-ticketing. Retaining a global sectoral approach at Copenhagen will deliver the best results in managing reductions in aviation’s emissions,” said Bisignani.

Notes for Editors:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 230 airlines comprising 93% of scheduled international air traffic.
  • The UN Leadership Forum on Climate Change is taking place in the UN HQ in New York on 22nd September 2009. It is the official launch of the Secretary General’s Summit on Climate Change.
  • The purpose of the Forum is to build positive political momentum towards the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in Copenhagen this December, by demonstrating explicit private sector support for bold climate action to Heads of State and Government. It is expected that business and civil society leaders will:
    • Make the case to Heads of State and Government that the private sector has a strong interest in the negotiation of a balanced and effective global climate change treaty;
    • Demonstrate that the private sector is already taking action to move to a low-carbon economy and that solutions to the climate crisis are available; and
    • Commit to taking action to address climate change – individually and in partnership with the UN and civil society.
  • Principles of a global sectoral approach
    • International aviation should be included in the post-Kyoto framework
    • Aviation should be treated as a separate sector rather than by country
    • Aviation emissions should be accounted for at a global level
    • Any scheme should cover CO2 emissions from aircraft, consistent with the Kyoto protocol. Once more is known about non–CO2 impacts, a new policy should be developed.
    • The sector should be held accountable and pay only once for its emissions
    • Revenues from economic measures such as emissions trading must be earmarked for environmental purposes. Some of this might be used to support the development of more fuel efficient aircraft or sustainable biofuels.
    • Allow full and unrestricted access to all available abatement measures outside the aviation sector and to carbon markets
    • All airlines/carriers must be treated equally
  • The Airlines delegation to the forum consists of IATA members Willie Walsh (British Airways), Mats Jansson (SAS Group), Pierre Caussade (Air France–KLM), Chris Schroeder (Qatar Airways) and Paul Steele (IATA)

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