Today’s 197th Council meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has drawn a number of relevant conclusions over so-called ‘market based measures’ (MBMs) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation.
The meeting’s conclusions recognise that global MBMs are technically feasible. This acknowledgement takes decisions to a political level, and to this end it sets up a High-Level Group of geographically representative senior government officials. This High Level Group will then make proposals on an MBM as well as a so-called ‘framework’ for MBMs, essentially a set of rules that countries should respect when implementing such measures. These proposals will be put to the triennial Assembly in September 2013.
However, the key shortcoming is that it remains unclear what any such proposal would contain, as there are no binding commitments on substance.
Bill Hemmings of T&E, a member of the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA) , said: “After 15 years of ICAO inaction, it’s crystal clear now that a global market-based measure for the aviation sector is simply a question of political will. It was ever so – technical objections always were a convenient excuse. It is imperative that the High Level Group work through and resolve important questions ranging from which measure, what level of environmental effectiveness to how to accommodate the concerns of developing countries. These are critical times and the world can no longer wait.”
Annie Petsonk of Environmental Defense Fund, also an ICSA member, said: “To a large extent, the US holds the key to real progress on an market-based measure now and this will be the first opportunity for Obama to show that he means what he said in his victory speech: ‘We want our children to live in an America that’ … ‘isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet’.”
Tim Johnson, Director of Aviation Environment Federation, another ICSA member, said: “ICAO has shown that with coordinated effort the technical issues can be resolved. Similar and rapid effort is now required to resolve the political questions in a spirit of fairness and equity while remembering that addressing aviation’s climate change impacts is a necessity. Everyone says a global approach is the way to go – now it’s time to match these words with deeds. The work of the High Level Group on a framework must be seen as a stepping stone to a global MBM and should not replace this objective or become an obstacle to progress on agreeing a global measure. ICAO has now the chance but also the great responsibility to see this happen through agreement on a proposal next September.”
 The International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA) is a structured network of environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who share a common concern with civil aviation’s contribution to air quality issues, climate change and noise, and who are committed to developing and providing technical expertise, common policy positions and strategies with a view to reducing emissions and noise from the aviation sector.
In pursuit of this objective, ICSA’s role is to provide environmental NGOs world-wide with observer status in the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization’s Committee for Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) and subsidiary bodies.
EU sees progress on UN airline emissions deal
Nov 10, 2012
(Reuters) – The European Union welcomed on Friday progress made by the U.N.’s civil aviation body toward a global deal to cut carbon emissions from the sector, raising hopes that the bloc may stand down from applying its controversial law that forces all airlines to pay for their pollution.
The governing council of the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), based in Montreal, discussed on Friday how it could deliver a global approach to tackling airline emissions.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive, has said that a concrete global framework from ICAO would be a justification for changing its law.
The Commission has been under immense pressure to scrap the bloc’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which requires all airlines using European airports to pay for each ton of carbon they emit flying into and out of the continent.
China and India have refused to comply, while both houses of the United States Congress have passed legislation that would make it illegal for its airlines to abide by the EU rules.
On Friday evening, EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard praised the “good news” from ICAO’s meeting.
“Progress being made towards international regulation of aviation emissions. Congratulations to ICAO leadership!” she wrote in a message on Twitter.
The Commission has been critical of ICAO’s progress on the issue, and said it had only decided to include airlines in its ETS after more than a decade of ICAO inaction.
Friday’s ICAO council meeting ended with a new process and timeline for the body to agree on a global framework to help the aviation sector slash their greenhouse gas emissions.
ICAO is expected to assemble a high-level group of senior government officials representing different geographical regions next week, which will submit reports to the ICAO council for its next meetings in March and June, according to an ICAO spokesman.
It will be expected to submit a proposal for an official resolution by the end of the June council meeting, which would be presented to ICAO’s general assembly, which takes place once every three years, with the next scheduled for November 2013.
The group will make recommendations on a number of potential measures, including emissions trading programs, carbon offsetting programs, alternative fuels and aircraft carbon emission standards.
The group will decide whether ICAO should adopt a single global market mechanism that would be applied uniformly to all countries, or a framework uniting a patchwork of different national programs, according to people who observed the meeting.
Environmental groups cautiously welcomed ICAO’s decision to “speed up work” on a global measure to cut aviation emissions.
“The work of the high level group on a framework must be seen as a stepping stone to a global market-based measure and should not replace this objective or become an obstacle to progress,” said Tim Johnson, director of the Aviation Environment Federation.
But U.S. airlines, represented by lobby group Airlines for America, said that despite the progress that came out of ICAO this week, it still believes the U.S. government should continue to oppose the ETS.
Congress is still expected to take action next week to harmonize two different bills that have passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate that would shield U.S. airlines from having to comply with the EU law.
“We still believe the legislation is needed, and we are hopeful it can be acted on next week,” said Jean Medina, a spokeswoman for the airline group.
Annie Petsonk, international counsel of the Environmental Defense Fund, said that PresidentBarack Obama has a chance to help resolve the row by supporting ICAO’s work.
“To a large extent, the US holds the key to real progress on a market-based measure now and this will be the first opportunity for Obama to show that he means what he said in his victory speech,” she said, referring to his recent remarks that he does not want to children to live under the threat of global warming.
A day earlier:
ICAO Council meeting on 9th November is perhaps the last chance to get meaningful global action on aviation CO2
Date added: November 8, 2012
The ICAO meeting on 9th November is their last chance to see meaningful action on controlling CO2 emissions from international aviation this decade. ICAO has been under particular pressure to act ever since its 2004 decision not to develop a global measure to curb aviation greenhouse gases opened the way for the EU to move regionally by including aviation in its ETS. Opponents of the ETS say a global solution through ICAO is needed, but the USA and others have repeatedly blocked all possible options. A year ago the ICAO Secretary General pushed publicly for ICAO to agree a proposal for global action by March 2013. That deadline won’t be met but there is still a chance over the next 3 months that ICAO’s Council can finalise a proposal in March 2013 to be approved at its triennial meeting in September 2013. However, to achieve this, ICAO’s Council needs to agree this week on a much accelerated work plan and resolve the many pending political questions which prevent substantive progress. President Obama’s re-election presents the US with a real opportunity to lead.