Environmental NGOs call for ICAO to bring forward global MBM adoption to 2015 for implementation in 2016
The ICAO draft resolution to be considered by the 38th Assembly later this week appears equivocal on whether to adopt a global market-based measure (MBM), leaving it to the 39th Assembly in 2016 to make a decision. However, environmental NGOs say that evidence shows early action must be taken to ensure the climate impact from rapidly increasing aviation emissions is minimised. In a submission to the Assembly by their representative body, the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA), they call for ICAO member states to agree now to develop a global MBM for adoption in 2015 and implementation in 2016. This would be 4 years earlier than the aviation industry is calling for under its “carbon-neutral growth” target (CNG2020). This would require the holding of an Extraordinary General Assembly in 2015, which although not unprecedented would be highly unusual. The NGOs are convinced, and backed by recent research, that a global MBM is the only feasible way to get meaningful CO2 reductions.
Environmental NGOs call for ICAO to bring forward global MBM adoption to 2015 for implementation in 2016
23 Sept 2013 (GreenAir online)
The ICAO draft resolution to be considered by the 38th Assembly later this week appears equivocal on whether to adopt a global market-based measure (MBM), leaving it to the 39th Assembly in 2016 to make a decision.
However, environmental NGOs say that evidence shows early action must be taken to ensure the climate impact from rapidly increasing aviation emissions is minimised. In a submission to the Assembly by their representative body, the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA), they call for ICAO member states to agree now to develop a global MBM for adoption in 2015 and implementation in 2016. This would require the holding of an Extraordinary General Assembly in 2015, which although not unprecedented would be highly unusual.
The NGOs cite a recent study by Manchester Metropolitan University’s (MMU) Centre for Air Transport and the Environment, which showed a global MBM was the only feasible mechanism to close the ‘emissions gap’ between the growth in aviation emissions and the ability of technology to reduce them but that there was a critical importance for taking early action in its implementation. The study showed the real climate benefit of any action depends on the cumulative emission reductions between now and a future date, and not just on achieving a certain amount of reductions by a specific year. Early reductions result in a lower emissions trajectory than equivalent annual savings made at a later date, it found.
The ICSA paper requests ICAO States at the Assembly to formally commit to adopt in 2015 a global MBM for international aviation for implementation in 2016, four years earlier than the aviation industry is calling for under its carbon-neutral growth target (CNG2020). The Assembly resolution, says ICSA, should direct the ICAO Council to request ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) to develop and agree the many crucial details necessary to the proper functioning of a global MBM. “CAEP should be duly authorised and resourced with proper funding to complete the work in time for an Extraordinary General Assembly in 2015 which would pave the way for implementation in 2016,” it adds.
Brad Schallert, Senior Program Officer for International Climate Change Policy with WWF, told journalists last week in a conference call with other NGOs: “We need action now. The sooner we act, the more of a chance we will have of [global warming] staying under two degrees Celsius, which is confirmed in MMU’s research. That’s why we’re calling for adoption in 2015, and swiftly implemented a year afterwards in 2016.”
Annie Petsonk, International Counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) said it was important that industry was given a long lead time to prepare for a global scheme.
“Obviously we would like the emissions caps to start as early as possible,” she said. “If they can’t start as soon as 2016, as we would like, having the rules established and the mechanism take effect right away, even if the caps don’t start until 2020, which is not our preferred approach, it would still allow for early reductions to begin to occur.
“As outlined under IATA’s Cape Town AGM resolution earlier this year and as recognised in the ICAO draft resolution, early movers can be encouraged and incentivised for their actions.”
According to an ICAO insider, there have been a few Extraordinary General Assemblies over the decades, the most relevant taking place over an aircraft noise issue in 1990 following the failure of the 1989 Assembly to reach agreement on the phase-out of Chapter 2 aircraft. “The problem is that even if ICSA gets support – and as ICAO Observers, their own paper will not even be discussed in substance without two State delegations endorsing – the funding requirements for an Extraordinary Session would almost certainly rule it out,” he said. “Given that it is a new idea, the not insignificant cost would have to be added in short order through Assembly action to the already largely determined budget for the next three years.”
Saudi Arabia is calling for the Assembly to take place every two years instead of the current three but the proposal has already been rejected by the ICAO Council and has little chance of adoption.
Although the NGOs wish to see a global MBM implemented as a matter of urgency, it believes national and regional MBMs are essential tools in the interim period before a global scheme takes effect, or beyond in the absence of a global MBM.
“The alternative, namely neither action at a State level nor a global MBM taking effect, cannot be supported,” says the ICSA paper, which also condemns the “unacceptably low coverage” of emissions limited by sovereign airspace, as provided for under the draft ICAO resolution.
“If there is to be any reference to national or regional MBMs, then from an environmental perspective it must be based on either departing flights or a ’50-50’ approach representing 50% of arriving flights and 50% of departing flights,” it adds. “For the 38th Assembly to conclude that States could only act within their airspace nine years after it had already recommended that States could implement emissions trading systems represents no progress on this issue.”
Letter from the NGOs to:
Mr José Manuel Barroso, President
Mr Siim Kallas, Vice President
Ms Connie Hedegaard, Commissioner
200, Rue de la Loi
Re: EU position at 38th ICAO Assembly
Dear Members of the Commission,
We write to express the grave concerns of NGOs at developments in the run up to the ICAO
Assembly and to suggest possible ways forward.
NGOs understand the extraordinary diplomatic and political obstacles preventing progress
on climate change issues at ICAO and have always supported the EU’s ambition for the EU
ETS to be a stepping stone towards a global agreement on aviation.
But we fear that the EU has effectively given away a large part of the proverbial ‘bird in the
hand’ (shrinking coverage of the aviation ETS by two thirds) for the ‘two birds in the bush’
(an aspirational future global deal on aviation emissions) very early and with unclear
conditions. Moreover, we feel the way this decision was reached – in a Coreper meeting,
without any consultation of Parliament or other stakeholders – runs contrary to the
Commission’s Treaty obligations to uphold EU legislation until any proposal to amend,
backed by a full impact assessment, is adopted by the College.
Moreover, confining the ETS to “regional airspace” sets a dangerous precedent for global
climate policy. A decision that states or regions can only regulate emissions in their own
airspace implies that no-one would even be allowed to take responsibility for the 78% of
global aviation CO2 emissions that fall outside of this scope. There is a big difference
between not)formally) assigning responsibility for these emissions, the current situation, and
formally)not)assigning it, a likely outcome of Europe’s concession to the Assembly.
Any ICAO agreement that falls short of a robust commitment now to prepare and
implement a global measure that will be effective in reducing emissions and that at the
same time binds Europe (and other states) to an airspace regime would be the worst of all
worlds. To date, Commission officials have provided assurances that the concession on
airspace and a strong outcome on a global MBM should be viewed as a package: one is only
acceptable with the other. We urge EU member states and the Commission to hold to this
stipulation at the Assembly. Any weakening of ICAO’s commitment to implement a global
deal should put the scope of the aviation ETS back on the table.
We have always felt that a ‘50/50’ solution – covering half of emissions from both inbound
and outbound flights – matches the environmental integrity of the ‘departing flights’
approach and addresses the question of responsibility for overflight and high-seas emissions
without provoking sovereignty concerns. As to any eventual post-Assembly proposal
amending the ETS, we note that the current Assembly draft allows for a wider geographic
scope than airspace.
NGOs share EU concerns that the Resolution should not place distortive or environmentally
unsound requirements on either regional or global schemes. Europe should defend the
existing level of de)minimis provisions in the ETS and strongly resist calls for a threshold of
1% or any figure remotely close to that.
Lastly, the NGO Observer to ICAO, ICSA, has proposed the organisation undertake a wide-
ranging review of decision-making processes and transparency. European members of ICAO
are bound by Aarhus to support more transparent procedures in ICAO – procedures that are
sadly lacking. We are firmly convinced that a far more transparent and consultative ICAO
decision-making process can help unlock the intractable issues that bedevil the organisation.
We ask for your active support for our proposals during and after the Assembly so that the
process towards a global solution can be successful.
Tim Johnson, Director, Aviation Environment Federation
Jos Dings, Director, Transport & Environment
Célia Gautier, EU Climate Policy Officer, Reseau Action Climat France
Kerstin Meyer, Secretary for Transport Policy, Verkehrsclub Deutschland
ICAO Seeks Global Emissions Pact as Europe Dilutes ETS
SEPTEMBER 23, 2013
by CHARLES ALCOCK
The general assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) this week will debate proposals for a global market-based mechanism (MBM) to control the increase in carbon-dioxide emissions from air transport. As an interim measure aimed at reaching consensus, negotiators for the 28-state European Union (EU) have offered to alter its existing emissions trading scheme (ETS) so that it would apply only to flying activity within EU airspace and not to all stages of intercontinental flights.
Delegates to the 38th triennial ICAO assembly, which begins on September 24 and runs through October 4, plan to begin discussing draft resolution A37-19 on September 26 and conduct a final vote on October 2. The proposals call for ratification of the envisioned MBM by the 39th assembly in 2016 and full implementation in 2020. In the meantime, the EU-ETS would remain in force, although with a more limited scope.
On September 18, lobbying groups the Environmental Defense Fund, the World Wildlife Fund and Transport & Environment called for ICAO to bring forward ratification of the new plan to 2015 and implement it in 2016.
Although all sides of the sometimes fractious debate seem ready to compromise to avoid a trade war that threats of retaliatory sanctions from leading opponents of EU-ETScould spark, some significant complications remain in terms of what form the MBMwould take and how the EU would have to amend its established ETS legislation to take account of the revised terms.
For example, it remains unclear whether the MBM would amount to a full-blown emissions trading scheme, or whether it might instead take the form of a simpler carbon-offsetting program (as favored by IATA) or a revenue-generating carbon offsetting program through which credits sold at elevated rates would divert some funds into climate-change-mitigation programs. Quite apart from wider objections to ETS, the system has drawn criticism for being excessively bureaucratic and disproportionately burdensome for smaller operators.
Another potential sticking point centers on a proposal that exempts some developing countries from MBM if their air transport emissions defined in revenue ton kilometers amount to less than 1 percent of the global total. Environmental groups also have expressed concern that the MBM might not apply to portions of flights conducted in international airspace (i.e. more than 12 nm from the boundary of national airspace).
Assuming adoption of the draft resolution, for EU officials to fulfill their commitment to stop applying ETS to flying activity outside EU airspace they will need to change the existing ETS regulation, which would involve returning to the European Parliament to ask for a retroactive “rubber-stamp” of any deal reached through ICAO.
As things stand, the EU has suspended ETS for flights outside its airspace under the “stop the clock” initiative, which stands contingent on the implementation of a global alternative. ETSwould go back into full force beginning January 1 next year unless a plan acceptable to the EU becomes final.