World airlines agree on Carbon-Neutral Growth

 The International Air Transport Association representing 85 percent of the world’s airline traffic, has overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution on  Carbon-Neutral Growth in the aviation sector.

GLOBE-Net, June 3, 2013 – The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents 85 percent of the world’s airline traffic, has overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution on Implementation of the Aviation Carbon-Neutral Growth (CNG2020) Strategy” (pdf).  

Passed at IATA 69th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Capetown South Africa, the resolution provides governments with a set of principles on how governments could establish procedures for a single market-based measure (MBM) for emissions management, and to integrate this measure as part of an overall package of measures to achieve carbon neutral growth in the industry. The measures would apply to emissions growth post-2020.

“Airlines are committed to working with governments to build a solid platform for the future sustainable development of aviation,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

[stextbox id=”custom” float=”true” width=”200″ bcolor=”add3d5″ bgcolor=”add3d5″ image=”null”]IATA member airlines believe a single mandatory carbon offsetting scheme would be the simplest and most effective option for effective emissions management in the aviation sector.[/stextbox]

“Today, they have come together to recommend to governments the adoption of a single market-based measure for aviation and provide suggestions on how it might be applied to individual carriers. Now the ball is in the court of governments. We will be strongly supporting their leadership as they seek a global agreement through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at its Assembly later this year,” he added.

Environment will be at the top of the agenda for the 38th ICAO Assembly in September. The IATA statement reflects the fact that the aviation industry urgently needs governments to agree, through ICAO, on a global approach to managing aviation’s carbon emissions, including a single global market-based measure.

The IATA measures are designed to provide a foundation for inter-governmental agreement in the wake of failed United Nations talks to resolve a stand-off over carbon emissions between the European Union and several other countries. 

The European Commission had temporarily suspended its plans to impose levies on flights taking off or landing from EU member states after the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agreed to consider a global plan to cut airline emissions.

Europe’s program to curb airplane emissions came into effect on Jan. 1, 2012, but the European Commission put it on temporary hold in November 2012, supposedly to give time to ICAO to come up with a global scheme.

Many believe the threat of trade related retaliation against the EU by China and India, and stern threats from the United States were the real reasons that prompted the EU hold on the taxation measures. 

Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate chief, quoted in a Guardian article said European governments were willing to help draft and support a strong system on aviation emissions.

“It is a very strong message that the airline industry seems ready to support a single global market-based measures to keep their emissions in check. Now it is time for the governments to match this and deliver in ICAO. The EU is ready,” she said.

The aviation sector is the first industry to suggest a global approach to the application of a single market-based measure to manage its climate change impact, notes IATA. This keeps aviation in the forefront of industries on managing carbon emissions.

Aviation was also the first to agree global targets, noted Tyler. These are: improving fuel efficiency by 1.5% annually to 2020, capping net emissions with CNG2020, and cutting emissions in half by 2050 compared to 2005. And it was also the first to agree on a global strategy to achieve them.

“For governments, finding agreement on MBMs will not be easy. It was difficult enough for the airlines, given the potential financial implications,” said Tyler. “Bridging the very different circumstances of fast growing airlines in emerging markets and those in more mature markets required a flexible approach and mutual understanding. But sustainability is aviation’s license to grow.”

“With that understanding and a firm focus on the future, airlines found an historic agreement. This industry agreement should help to relieve the political gridlock on this important issue and give governments momentum and a set of tools as they continue their difficult deliberations,” said Tyler. 

A market-based measure is one of the four pillars of the aviation industry’s united strategy on climate change. Improvements in technology, operations and infrastructure will deliver the long-term solution for aviation’s sustainability.

This will be critical in the short-term as a gap-filler until technology, operations and infrastructure solutions mature. So we cannot take our eye off the ball on developing sustainable low-carbon alternative fuels, achieving the Single European Sky or the host of other programs that will improve aviation’s environmental performance,” said Tyler.

A summary of the principles of the resolution includes the following:

  • Setting the industry and individual carrier baselines using the average annual total emissions over the period 2018-2020;
  • Agreeing to provisions/adjustments for recognizing early movers, benchmarked for 2005-2020 with a sunset by 2025; accommodating new market entrants for their initial years of operation and fast growing carriers.
  • Adopting an equitable balance for determining individual carrier responsibilities that includes consideration of an ’emissions share’ element (reflecting the carrier’s share of total industry emissions) and a post-2020 ‘growth’ element (reflecting the carrier’s growth above baseline emissions)
  • Reporting and verification of carbon emissions based on a global standard to be developed by ICAO that is simple and scalable based on the size and complexity of the operator.
  • Instituting a periodic CNG2020 performance review cycle that revises individual elements and parameters as appropriate.

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