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Open letter calls on aviation leaders to meet global climate commitments

Brussels 11 May 2016. On the opening day of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) high level meeting in Montreal, 64 environmental organisations and Members of the European Parliament call for the aviation sector to develop a robust tool to reduce their emissions in line with the Paris agreement.

 This week, ICAO – the international body responsible for regulating international aviation – meets to debate how CO2 emissions reductions in the aviation sector can be achieved through a Global Market-Based Measure (GMBM).

As pressure builds ahead of the UN body’s general assembly in October, environmental organisations from 28 countries around the world and Members of the European Parliament have sent an open letter to the negotiating Parties calling for an ambitious agreement with environmental integrity to ensure that the aviation sector does its part to tackle climate change.

Urgent measures needed to pursue 1.5°C goal

 In 2010, ICAO set itself a goal to have carbon neutral growth from 2020, to be achieved through a basket of measures, including a global market-based measure.

The draft resolution being discussed in Montreal this week however, does not acknowledge the Paris agreement and the efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C. It also contains a number of weaknesses which undermine the measure’s environmental integrity – no binding offset criteria, substantial exemptions which aren’t compensated for and an absence of a review mechanism to increase ambition.

The aviation sector must recognise the need for urgent measures in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Therefore, the carbon neutral growth should be a binding first step, with provisions in place to increase ambition over time,” commented Andrew Murphy, Aviation and Shipping Policy Officer, Transport & Environment.

Quality offset projects

 Climate mitigation projects are used to compensate for emissions produced elsewhere. One of the key elements in the possible GMBM would be to guarantee that these projects actually deliver real and sustainable emission reductions while fulfilling stringent environmental and social criteria.

“It is essential to establish a negative list that prohibits projects with harmful environmental or social impacts, such as fossil fuel projects or large hydro power installations, from qualifying under any new market-based measure,” said Aki Kachi, International Policy Director at Carbon Market Watch. “It is high time that ICAO’s leaders send a clear message, that only real, verifiable and permanent emission reductions can be allowed.”

EU’s “stop-the-clock” about to expire

International aviation was originally covered in the EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). The scope was reduced to exclude inter-continental flights pending the upcoming global solution at ICAO. The so called “stop-the-clock” legislation will expire at the end of 2016.

If ICAO agrees on a scheme that doesn’t ensure the aviation sector is doing its fair share in limiting climate change, I see no reason why Europe shouldn’t include international flights to and from the EU under the EU ETS as of the first of January 2017,” commented Bas Eickhout, Member of the European Parliament.

Emissions from aviation are responsible for approximately 5% of global warming. This is comparable to the amount of emissions from the 129 least emitting countries combined. If left unaddressed, emissions from aviation are expected to grow by up to 300% by 2050.

Carbon Market Watch outlines criteria for an effective and credible GMBM in its new policy brief Cabin cross check: Safety criteria for aviation’s market-based measure.



Aki Kachi, International Policy Director, Carbon Market Watch
Tel: +32 483 18 52 19
[email protected]

Kaisa Amaral, Press Officer, Carbon Market Watch
Tel: +32 485 07 68 90
[email protected]

Kelsey Perlman, Policy Officer, Carbon Market Watch
Tel: +32 487 13 02 80
[email protected]

Notes to editor:

Open Letter to ICAO Parties on global market-based measure for aviation (EN, FR, ES)

Policy briefing “Cabin cross check: Safety criteria for aviation’s market-based measure”

Main imperatives:

  • Recognize the need to limit global average temperature rise to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels in line with the Paris Agreement
  • Set the 2020 climate neutral goal as a legally binding floor for the entire sector as a whole, with reviews every 3 years to rapidly and substantially increase ambition over time
  • Ensure environmental and social integrity of carbon credits used for compliance in the GMBM, mandate strict MRV, and prevent double counting so as to not compromise efforts
  • Consult relevant stakeholders while fostering transparency through public access to information


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