Montreal - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged the governments of the world to reach an agreement on a global framework to manage international aviation’s emissions at the 37th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

“The biggest challenge for this Assembly is to reach an agreement on a global solution to manage emissions from international aviation. A united aviation industry of airlines, airports, air navigation service providers, manufacturers and general aviation has made ambitious commitments to cap and eventually cut its emissions. To be successful, governments must endorse these commitments in a globally agreed framework,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO, to a group of delegates attending the ICAO Assembly in Montreal.

The aviation industry is united behind three targets: (1) a 1.5% average annual improvement in fuel efficiency to 2020, (2) capping net emissions from 2020 with carbon-neutral growth and (3) cutting emission in half by 2050 compared to 2005. “No other industrial sector has made such ambitious global commitments. Even UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon commended the aviation industry as a role model for other industries to follow,” said Bisignani.

Bisignani highlighted several key elements which could help facilitate global consensus:

  • Place and Process: The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres, confirmed that ICAO is the forum for dealing with emissions from international aviation and that any agreement at ICAO would not, in any way, impact the position of any state on non-aviation issues discussed in the UNFCCC process.
  • Developing Nations: Even within a global agreement, ICAO has a track record of accommodating the needs of developing states. For example, ICAO’s global framework for noise reduction included extended timelines for developing states.
  • Growth: The industry’s global solution will facilitate growth and the economic benefits it brings even while reducing emissions. This will be achieved through the industry’s four- pillar strategy of investments in technology, more efficient infrastructure, more effective operations and globally coordinated positive economic measures.

“Major blockers are being removed. The industry is ready. And most governments agree that a global framework is needed. There are still some hurdles to overcome, but we are moving in the right direction,” said Bisignani who noted that important regional groupings and individual states have indicated their wish for an agreement.

The planned inclusion of aviation into the European emissions trading scheme in 2012 has helped to focus governments on the urgency of a global solution. “If this Assembly ends without an agreement, the next opportunity is 2013. In the meantime the industry would be faced with a growing patchwork of conflicting and overlapping measures. For example, against global opposition, Europe would have to try to move forward with its unilateral emissions trading scheme,” said Bisignani.

“No government or industry player will want to face the consequences of such a development. It would lead to a breakdown of the global standards on which global aviation was built, a patchwork of uncoordinated taxes and schemes, strained bilateral relations and serious challenges on sovereignty issues,” said Bisignani.

“The livelihoods of 32 million people and $3.5 trillion in economic activity depend on the success of global aviation. As leaders, everyone attending this Assembly has a great responsibility to continue building a safe, secure, efficient and sustainable future for this wonderful industry. The industry is committed to supporting governments in reaching agreement on a responsible solution for aviation and the environment. I am optimistic that we will be successful,” said Bisignani.

The ICAO Assembly will discuss environmental issues in its Executive Committee on Thursday 30 September with conclusions to be reported by the Assembly’s conclusion on 8 October.

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Notes for Editors:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 230 airlines comprising 93% of scheduled international air traffic.
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