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ICAO sets 2% fuel improvement goal for airline industry

ATW Daily News by Perry Flint 12 Oct.09

ICAO concluded its High Level Meeting on International Aviation and Climate Change Friday with a reaffirmation that the organization is the preferred channel to address aviation's impact on the environment ahead of the upcoming UN Copenhagen Climate Summit in December.

However, it stopped short of adopting all of the recommendations contained in a working paper submitted by IATA, Airports Council International, Civil Air Navigation Services Organization and the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations (ATWOnline, Oct. 8) .

The largest difference is that ICAO adopted a target of a "global annual average fuel efficiency improvement of 2%" for the airline industry through 2020 and "an aspirational global fuel efficiency improvement rate of 2% per annum in the long term from 2021 to 2050, calculated on the basis of volume of fuel used per RTK performed."

IATA's position and the one adopted by the stakeholder group was for a 1.5% improvement through 2020 with carbon neutral growth thereafter. Speaking to reporters by telephone Saturday morning, IATA DG Giovanni Bisignani said the document "delivers nearly everything we wanted" but made it clear that governments must fill the 0.5% gap in fuel efficiency between IATA and ICAO through ATM efficiency improvements and support of biofuel development.

ICAO also did not adopt the industry's proposal for "carbon neutral growth" from 2020, with a net reduction in emissions of 50% by 2050 compared to 2005, favoring instead a continued 2% yearly fuel efficiency improvement. In a statement, Bisignani said, "It is ironic that industry is setting tougher targets for itself than its regulators are prepared to require."

ICAO also did not move forward on economic issues such as carbon taxes or cap-and-trade for airlines but agreed to "establish a process to develop a framework for market-based measures in international aviation." Nor did it specifically commit to the global sectoral approach sought by the airline industry. It did agree to explore "the feasibility of goals of more ambition," including "carbon-neutral growth and emissions reductions." It left open the possibility of addressing these at the 2010 general assembly.

In a statement, ICAO Council President Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez stated, "The nations of the world that represent the vast majority of international civil aviation traffic have spoken and their commitment is clear."

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