On the last day of its 38th Assembly, member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization came to an agreement on a market-based approach to capping aviation emissions worldwide.
Members will help to develop a proposal for the market-based measure (MBM) by the next assembly, in 2016, that would be implemented by 2020. Facing pressure by the European Union, which had developed and implemented its own emissions-capping plan, ICAO members hammered out a deal that would seemingly placate EU officials.
Before the 2016 deadline, officials will have to discuss monitoring, reporting and verification strategies as well as enforcement methods.
“This MBM agreement is an historic milestone for air transport and for the role of multilateralism in addressing global climate challenges,” Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez, ICAO Council president, said in a statement. “Once again, our states have shown that significant boundaries can be surpassed when we agree to recognize and accommodate our varying circumstances while progressing together towards common goals.”
Developing a global solution by that can be put in place in the next decade seems to the European Commission’s Connie Hedegaard as the right step forward. While as of now, the EU’s emissions-trading scheme only remains temporarily suspended, she seemed to welcome the idea that the scheme would be retired in favor of ICAO’s path forward on emissions. The final say, however, requires a vote of all EU stakeholders.
“What matters to us is that the aviation sector also contributes to our efforts to reduce emissions,” Hedegaard stated. “While we would have liked more countries to accept our regional scheme, progress was made overall and we will now factor this in when, together with the member states and the European Parliament, we decide on the way forward with the EU ETS.''
Hedegaard’s colleague, EC Vice President Siim Kallas, noted the ICAO resolution has helped avoid potentially disastrous disagreements between the European Union and its trading partners. The United States had previously passed a law preventing any U.S. airlines from engaging in the European Union’s trading scheme, and this deal will prevent that issue from coming to a head.
Tony Tyler, head of the International Air Transport Association, said the passage of the deal marked “a great day for aviation.” IATA’s 240 members had previously passed a resolution asking ICAO to adopt a global market-based scheme, and the resolution ICAO passed on Friday is in line with the membership’s desires.
“Now we have a strong mandate and a short three-year time frame to sort out the details,” Tyler said in a statement. “Airlines need and want a global MBM. Without losing any of the momentum built up over these last two weeks, we are eager to get on with the detailed work needed to design the global scheme in time for finalization at the 2016 Assembly.”
Tyler also singled out European authorities for first putting emissions reduction on the international agenda. While not everyone agreed on the tactic, the European Union’s “early and persistent efforts” helped pave a path forward, he said.
The industry group Airlines For America applauded the global approach of the resolution and the confirmation that local and regional emissions-capping measures aren’t the solution.
“The U.S. aviation industry has an exceptional environmental track record, and remains committed to further advancing its environmental stewardship,” Nancy Young, A4A’s vice president, environmental affairs, stated. “Today’s resolution reaffirms the global commitment by airlines and governments to continue moving forward with meaningful, workable solutions to address climate change and achieve carbon neutral growth from 2020 — a true win for airlines, their customers and our environment.”