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ICAO members reach historic agreement on climate change

ATW Daily News by Perry Flint 11 Oct.10

Member states of ICAO finalized an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions including creating a framework to implement market-based measures to manage aviation GHGs on a sectoral basis.

The comprehensive resolution, adopted by the 190 member states at the conclusion of the 37th ICAO General Assembly on Friday, formalizes last year's "aspirational goal" of achieving a 2% annual fuel efficiency improvement up to the year 2050.

In addition to agreeing to the development of a framework for market-based measures, the member states called for a feasibility study on the creation of a global MBM scheme and "guiding principles" for member states to use when designing and implementing market-based measures for international aviation. These will be reviewed at the next general assembly in 2013, ICAO said.

The resolution also calls for the creation of "a global framework for the development and deployment of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation, and a target of 2013 for a CO2 standard for aircraft engines."

ICAO Council President Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez said the resolution and related decisions "are good examples of the spirit of cooperation that can make a substantial contribution to the UNFCCC discussions." It is expected that the resolution will be presented at the UNFCCC meeting in Cancun Nov. 29-Dec. 10.

ICAO noted that the historic agreement was adopted with some members "expressing reservations and calling upon the ICAO Council to continue its work on specific aspects of the agreement."

The agreement was welcomed by aviation stakeholder groups including IATA and Airports Council International, although it fell short of adopting their positions in some key areas. "Governments have taken an historic decision. For the first time, we have globally agreed aspirational goals to stabilize emissions," IATA DG and CEO Giovanni Bisignani said in a statement. He added, "No other industry sector has a similar globally agreed framework for managing its response to climate change in a manner that takes into consideration the needs of both developed and developing states. Moreover, it recognizes the need for governments and industry to work together. This is a good first step that prepares the way for future achievements."

ACI DG Angela Gittens said, "We are pleased to see that ICAO national delegations accept the need for a shared global vision and common goals as well as their willingness to move ahead on the agreed positions…despite some remaining questions that will be addressed in future discussions. The aviation industry has shown that we are committed, proactive and realistic."

IATA, ACI and groups representing aerospace manufacturers and air navigation services providers had presented a proposal calling for a 1.5% annual improvement in fuel efficiency through 2020; carbon neutral growth between 2020 and 2050; and a 50% net reduction in aviation GHGs by 2050 compared to 2005 (ATW Daily News, Sept. 20).

Friday's resolution also includes mechanisms for technology transfer to developing nations; a requirement for member states to submit to ICAO action plans for reaching goals set by the organization; assistance for countries to help them meet their objectives; and exemptions from MBMs for nations with very low emissions owing to their small traffic base.

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