ICAO: Agreement on international aviation CO2 emissions expected

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ICAO Council President, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu

A landmark agreement on international aviation carbon emissions is expected when world governments gather for the 39th International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly.

Over 2,000 Ministers and high-ranking government officials were at the Montréal headquarters of ICAO yesterday, for the launch of the UN aviation agency’s 39th Triennial Assembly.

One of the most ambitious events of its kind in ICAO’s over seven decades of managing global air transport co-operation and progress, the 39th Assembly, which runs through to 7 October, is expected to adopt the first ever global market-based measure (MBM) by any industry sector covering CO2 emissions from international activity.

ICAO’s Council President, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, says: “The path to an MBM for international aviation has been a complex one, for all concerned, but it has also been a process characterised by a high-level of political will and a clear motivation among state and industry parties to realise a practical and consensus-driven global approach. Already, states responsible for some 80 per cent of international flights have volunteered to participate in the GMBM from 2021”

The global aviation network manages some 10 million passengers and 100,000 flights daily, with international aviation contributing 1.3 per cent a year to global manmade CO2 emissions.

ICAO secretary general, Dr. Fang Liu explains: “Significant progress has been achieved by ICAO and its member states since 2010 to realise the sector’s goal of carbon neutral growth from 2020. These include innovative technologies, streamlined operations and procedures, and sustainable alternative aviation fuels.”

She added that given the global system’s tendency to double in flight and passenger volumes once every 15 years, a need is recognised for an MBM to complement the wide-ranging measures.

In addition to the expected agreement on the aviation MBM, governments at the 39th Assembly are also expected to endorse new amendments to ICAO’s global strategic plans for aviation safety and air navigation efficiency, as well as recommend that ICAO now develop similar global plans for aviation security and facilitation and air transport economic development.

Aliu notes: “ICAO has accomplished a tremendous amount in the past three years, most especially in our efforts to drive more targeted and effective assistance for States under our No Country Left Behind initiative, and through new frameworks for cost-effective capacity building such as the ICAO International Programme for Aviation Volunteers.

“We have also become more forward-looking and responsive and we are well-prepared for the new challenges our 39th Assembly will place before us.”

The decisions to be made over the next ten days at ICAO will complement the performance of the world air transport network, improving its ability to drive sustainable long-term socio-economic benefits in every world region.

“Our states are taking clear note of this today, especially given the ambitious targets they’ve adopted under the UN’s Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” says Liu.

“This Assembly will be one for bold decisions, and a time to refine our vision for how air transport can be of even greater service to states and regions, businesses and travellers, in the exciting years ahead. I very much look forward to this journey,” Aliu concluded in his opening address.