Good evening and welcome to Roberto Kobeh Gonzales, President of the Council of ICAO, Raymond Benjamin, Secretary General of ICAO, Ministers, Directors General of Civil Aviation colleagues and friends.

First, congratulations to Harold Demuren, Director General of Civil Aviation of Nigeria for his election as President of the Assembly.

It is a pleasure to host this evening as you begin important deliberations on the industry’s most important issues. The signing of an agreement to share safety information among the US, Europe, ICAO and IATA is an important step forward on our number one priority. And the presence of US Secretary of Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano signifies the progress that is being made on the issue of security.

The biggest challenge is to find an agreement on climate change. Airlines, airports, air navigation service providers, manufacturers and general aviation are committed to ambitious targets. We will improve fuel efficiency by an average of 1.5% annually to 2020. We will cap our net emissions from 2020 with carbon-neutral growth and we will cut them in half by 2050 compared to 2005. No other sector has made such ambitious global commitments and even UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon commended aviation as a role model.

At ICAO’s High Level Meeting on Environment last year, governments made important commitments for this Assembly. First, to evaluate environmental goals that take into consideration the industry’s commitments and the special needs of developing nations. Second, to establish a process to develop a global framework for economic measures. Recent developments give us confidence. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres confirmed in a letter to President Kobeh that ICAO is the right forum to manage international aviation’s emissions and that a universal solution at ICAO will not compromise the position of any state in any non-aviation issue discussed at the UNFCCC. This should be a great reassurance to many states. Moreover, even within a global agreement, ICAO can accommodate the special needs of developing states as it did with its historic agreement on noise.

Let me be clear on one last point. Our proposed framework for reduction targets will not limit aviation’s growth, which is an important driver of many economies. We have run our numbers and we know that with our four-pillar strategy we can reduce emissions even as aviation grows.

Consensus is building. Most governments agree to the need for a global agreement under ICAO. The Latin American Civil Aviation Commission (LACAC), the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), the Arab Civil Aviation Commission (ACAC), Canada, the US, Russia, Australia and others have all indicated their wish for an agreement. Now, we need the political will to achieve at this Assembly a global agreement that allows aviation to meet its ambitious targets without compromising our contribution to global economic growth. None of us wish to face the consequences of no agreement - a breakdown of global standards on which global aviation is built, a patchwork of uncoordinated taxes and schemes, strained bilateral relations and serious challenges on sovereignty issues.

We can be proud of building a safe industry that has made the global village a reality. This is the legacy of cooperation and common-purpose that is ICAO. This same approach must characterize this Assembly as it works towards a solution on environment.

I am confident that you will make wise decisions considering and accommodating the interests of all states, the need to reduce emissions and the important role of aviation in modern life. As leaders, we have a great responsibility to continue building a safe, secure, efficient and sustainable future for this wonderful industry. I wish you all a successful Assembly.