UN aviation body is "stalling" on emissions

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has been accused of stalling on measures to tackle aviation emissions following its 38th Assembly in Montreal last week. The UN body agreed to […]

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The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has been accused of stalling on measures to tackle aviation emissions following its 38th Assembly in Montreal last week.

The UN body agreed to push forward with plans for a global, market based mechanism (MBM) to reduce emissions. However it only committed to coming up with proposals for the next assembly in 2016, with the actual measures not pencilled in until 2020 – not quick enough for many.

Despite this ICAO Council President, Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez was pleased with the ICAO’s agreement: “This MBM agreement is an historic milestone for air transport and for the role of multilateralism in addressing global climate challenges.”

Jean Leston, Transport Policy Officer of WWF-UK was less impressed: “The world has waited 16 years for ICAO to demonstrate its serious commitment to reducing aviation emissions. What we got today seems a very small return for that effort.”

She added: “While ICAO delegates and the airline industry will be crowing about the significant progress they have made this week, the reality is that [the] decision does nothing to reduce emissions in the short term.”

The EU’s efforts to have its own MBM – the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – recognised by the ICAO were also shot down during the assembly. Despite an earlier compromise by the EU to only charge airlines for emissions made over its airspace – rather than for the entirety of flights coming in and out of the region –  the ICAO members still weren’t happy with the scheme.

According to reports they voted 97 to 39 to include a provision in the body’s resolution saying another country’s airline could not be included in an emissions trading scheme without a mutual agreement with that country.

Finnish Green MEP, Satu Hassi is quoted as saying: “The [ICAO] is both seeking to block EU action and once more stalling on urgently-needed international measures to address the growing impact of airline emissions on climate change.”

She added: “The EU must now stand firm and stick by its original plans on aviation emissions. We should not dismantle effective climate policy instruments in exchange for a vague promise on a global scheme in the distant future”.

Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action was more positive about the outcome: ”The EU’s hard work has paid off. After so many years of talks, ICAO has finally agreed to the first-ever global deal to curb aviation emissions.”