WWF blog on what ICAO needs to do to make meaningful steps toward limiting global aviation CO2

The CO2 emissions from the global international aviation sector have largely been left out of global efforts to tackle climate change. If they continue to rise while other sectors decrease, aviation’s share of global CO2 emissions will increase from 1.4% today to 22% in 2050. In September we have a chance to start to take action on this when ICAO will seek global agreement on a market-based measure (MBM) to make international airlines start paying for their CO2 emissions. So far ICAO’s efforts have been conducted in near-total secrecy. Civil society groups have long been pushing for greater transparency in ICAO, and now ICAO has finally published its draft Assembly Resolution text. A key issue to be resolved is how to share out emissions targets between countries, recognising that developed countries (and their airlines) should take the lead in cutting CO2. The ICAO Assembly Agreement needs to make two things clear. (1) that offsetting CO2 emissions above 2020 levels is only a first step and in-sector CO2 reductions will also be needed, so the sector is playing its part in moving towards a 1.5°C goal. And (2) that ICAO nust ensure that airlines will only be allowed to claim emissions reductions from carbon credits and biofuels if they achieve real emissions reductions – not dodgy ones. On this point the current text is ambiguous.

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Time to set aviation on a flightpath to tackle climate change

Today marks 100 days since French Foreign Minister and COP President Laurent Fabius banged the gavel on the Paris Agreement on climate change, to jubilant cheers from world leaders and observers across the globe.

This was the moment that developed and developing countries alike agreed to keep global warming “well below” 2°C, and to “pursue efforts” to limit the increase to 1.5°C.

The 1.5°C goal keeps climate stability within reach. It reduces risks to those countries threatened by sea-level rise and increased severe weather that will accompany even 2°C of warming. Achieving the 1.5°C goal will require greater efforts to reduce emissions across the entire global economy.

Carbon emissions from the global aviation sector are already bigger than those of the UK, and growing fast.

If left unchecked, international aviation could eat up over a fifth of the world’s entire carbon budget by 2050.

It’s not just carbon that’s the problem either – emissions of sulphur and nitrogen oxides at altitude cause clouds to form that further increase the global warming impact of flying.

But this major industry – international aviation –  has been largely left out of global efforts to tackle climate change.

We have a chance to change that this autumn, when the UN aviation agency ICAO will seek global agreement on a market-based measure (MBM) to make international airlines start paying for their CO2 emissions.

International aviation emissions growth out to 2050 © WWF-UK / Made NoiseInternational aviation emissions growth out to 2050 © WWF-UK / Made Noise

So far, efforts within ICAO to develop climate solutions have been conducted in near-total secrecy. Civil society groups have long been pushing for greater transparency in ICAO, so it’s good to see that ICAO has finally published its draft Assembly Resolution text.

Hopefully this means that all countries and stakeholders can now have an open and well-informed discussion about the proposals.

The key issue for the ICAO Assembly in Montreal this autumn is how to share out emissions targets between countries, recognising that developed countries (and their airlines) should take the lead in reducing emissions.

ICAO needs to make sure that developing countries, especially those not directly engaged in the MBM (Market Based Mechanism) process, have the information they need to figure out if the deal is fair for them or not.

Above all, the ICAO Assembly Agreement needs to make two things clear.

Firstly, that offsetting CO2 emissions above 2020 levels is only a first step for the aviation sector. Stronger targets and in-sector reductions will also be needed to put aviation on a truly sustainable flightpath. The current text only includes downward-facing language around price controls and winding-up the MBM if the sector over-achieves – what it needs is upward-facing language charting a course towards a fair share from aviation towards the 1.5°C goal.There are many other issues at stake too.

Secondly, ICAO must send a clear signal that airlines will only be allowed to claim emissions reductions from carbon credits and biofuels if they achieve real emissions reductions, while promoting sustainable development. Dodgy offsets and bad biofuels must not be allowed in. On this point the current text is ambiguous.

The UK can help provide the strong political leadership that ICAO needs in order to seize this unique opportunity and put the international aviation sector on a flightpath to a truly sustainable future.

The UK played a key role in brokering the Paris Agreement, and has already moved to set a long-term zero-carbon goal. We’re calling on climate and transport ministers to work together to keep the momentum going from Paris, through to Montreal.

http://blogs.wwf.org.uk/blog/climate-energy/time-to-set-aviation-on-a-flightpath-to-tackle-climate-change/

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Please visit the Flightpath 1.5 website to find out more about reducing emissions from aviation.

FlightPath 1.5 is a global campaign of leading environmental voices, dedicated to cutting aviation climate pollution and ensuring that aviation contributes its fair share to the goal of limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels.

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A small extract from the  Draft Assembly Resolution text on a Global Market-based Measure (GMBM) Scheme (As of 11 March 2016, for use at the second round of Global Aviation Dialogues (GLADs) from 20 March to 8 April 2016

says:
The Assembly:
1. Acknowledges the progress achieved on all elements of the basket of measures available to address CO2 emissions from international aviation, including aircraft technologies, operational improvements, sustainable alternative fuels and a GMBM scheme and any other measures, and affirms the preference for the use of aircraft technologies, operational improvements and sustainable alternative fuels that provide the environmental benefits within the aviation sector; {Basket of measures and preference for non-MBM measures}
2. Also acknowledges that, despite this progress, the environmental benefits from aircraft technologies, operational improvements and sustainable alternative fuels may not deliver sufficient CO2 emissions reductions to address the growth of international air traffic, and to achieve the global aspirational goal of keeping the global net CO2 emissions from international aviation from 2020 at the same level; {Recognition of not achieving CNG 2020 by non-MBM measures}
3. Emphasizes the complementary role of a GMBM scheme to the other elements of a basket of measures, as a temporary emissions gap filler to achieve the global aspirational goal, without imposing inappropriate economic burden on international aviation; {Complementary role of GMBM to achieve CNG 2020}
4. Decides to implement a GMBM scheme in the form of the Carbon Offsetting Scheme for International Aviation (COSIA) to address any annual increase in total CO2 emissions from international aviation (i.e. flights that depart in one country and arrive in a different country) above the 2020 levels, taking into account special circumstances and respective capabilities; {GMBM is Carbon Offsetting Scheme for International Aviation (COSIA)}
5. Requests the Council to continue to ensure all efforts to make further progress on aircraft technologies, operational improvements and sustainable alternative fuels be taken by Member States and reflected in their action plans to address CO2 emissions from international aviation, and to monitor the progress on implementation of action; {Further progress on non-MBM measures}
6. Acknowledges special circumstances and respective capabilities of States, in particular developing States, in terms of vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, economic development levels, and contributions to international aviation emissions, while minimizing market distortion; {Recognition of special circumstances of States.
………… and it continues for 6 pages with many paragraphs recognising, recalling, noting, emphasising, requesting, acknowledging etc  ………. in UN language …
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See also

NGOs call on ICAO not to use REDD+ carbon credits – forests & soils cannot offset aviation CO2

The organisation, FERN* has published a letter signed by around 82 environmental NGOs around the world, calling on the global aviation sector through ICAO to actually reduce carbon emissions, rather than just the proposed use of carbon offsetting. The NGOs say plans to offset most of the sector’s growth in emissions are a significant distraction from real measures to reduce aviation emissions. Under business-as-usual, aviation is projected to increase emissions by between 300 – 700% by 2050, despite only being used by well below 10% of the world’s population. The NGOs are particularly concerned that carbon offsets that are inappropriate and unreliable would be used, as ICAO is considering a carbon offset system called REDD+ (‘Reduce Deforestation from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’). The NGOs say REDD+ credits should not be used, as they do not even meet ICAO’s own standards, and include double counting. REDD+ projects that tackle the real drivers of large-scale deforestation – extraction of oil, coal, mining, infrastructure, large-scale dams, industrial logging and international trade in agricultural commodities – are largely absent. There is also a risk that agricultural offsets would favour large-scale farmers or monoculture farming practices. These are not suitable offsets for aviation.

Click here to view full story…

US and China will sign the Paris deal – raising hopes for ICAO agreement on MBM in September

2.4.2016

China and the US, the world’s two leading carbon polluters, have said they plan to formally join the Paris climate agreement in April. In a joint statement, they agreed to sign the historic deal to cut CO2 emissions and take “respective domestic steps” to approve it as “early as possible this year.” They also urge other nations to follow suit. The support from these two means the Paris deal is closer to coming into force. Over 55% of global carbon emissions and 55 countries must formally join for the Paris Agreement to apply from 2020. China and the US account for about 40%. The US Environmental Defense Fund said that support this year for a global market-based measure to address greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation is also very important. “A strong agreement at the 2016 ICAO Assembly is one of the top global priorities for climate change this year — and a key part of President Obama’s legacy.” They hope the Chinese and US commitment may encourage other countries in ICAO to act, and open a pathway to resolving the key question of how to share, fairly, the responsibilities for offsetting future aviation emissions. There are only 190 days till the conclusion of the ICAO Assembly in Montreal.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/04/us-and-china-will-sign-the-paris-deal-raising-hopes-for-icao-agreement-on-mbm-in-september/

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“Flightpath 1.5” campaign launched to urge the UN’s ICAO to tackle aviation’s CO2 emissions by September

23.6.2016

Leading environmental NGOs have launched FlightPath 1.5, a global campaign to cut aviation CO2 emissions and ensure that aviation contributes its fair share to the goal of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Aviation was not directly addressed in the COP21 Paris climate agreement in December 2015. The FlightPath 1.5 campaign is focused on ensuring that ICAO and its 191 Member States adopt a meaningful new agreement at the upcoming Assembly in September this year. If ICAO fails to take bold steps, aviation emissions are projected to triple by 2050, threatening to undermine efforts to limit planetary warming to no more than 1.5°C. The next Assembly won’t happen again for another three years, meaning that time is pressing to get an agreement. FlightPath 1.5 calls for capping and cutting CO2 emissions of the entire international aviation sector. It advocates an aggressive and transparent ICAO deal that: (1). Initially caps net CO2 emissions of international aviation at 2020 levels; (2) Encourages airlines to meet the cap by cutting their own emissions and lets them use market-based measures as well, if these deliver genuine cuts; and (3). Reviews the cap regularly, so that over time, aviation’s climate pollution can be ratcheted-down in line with the Paris target. The groups involved include AEF, Carbon Market Watch, Environmental Defense Fund, ICCT, T&E and WWF.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/03/flightpath-1-5-campaign-launches-to-urge-the-uns-icao-to-tackle-aviations-co2-emissions-by-september/

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