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Global aviation climate measure an uncertain first step

MONTREAL | BRUSSELS, 6 October 2016. Today, negotiators at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly agreed on a deal to address international aviation emissions. The deal falls far short of ICAO’s original goal of compensating the sector’s overall emissions growth from 2020. Explicit language -included in the Paris Agreement- on international oversight and environmental safeguards were also left out from today’s agreement, leaving the door open to risky credits and much to be resolved at a technical level to ensure high environmental integrity.

The reservations of Argentina, Venezuela, India and Russia on the final text drop expected coverage of the mechanism to around three quarters of emissions from 2021-2035.

Aki Kachi, International Policy Director said: “After heartfelt appeals for action and laudable voluntary participation from vulnerable countries such as Burkina Faso and the Marshall Islands, the fact that the already insufficient Carbon Neutral Goal from 2020 levels will not be met underlines the need for further action.”

A last minute change to the text inserted stronger language on eligibility and double counting of UNFCCC credits, something that Carbon Market Watch has long advocated for.

Nevertheless, the resolution lacks high level language around oversight, environmental integrity and problematic credits. Furthermore, while up and running by 2021, the scheme will be voluntary until 2027, which pushes the sector’s climate goals even further away. A further disappointment was the deletion of a requirement for ICAO to set a long term goal matching the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 and 2 degree Celsius goals in a related resolution.

Details remain unclear

While the measure itself has been agreed, the ultimate functioning of the scheme remains uncertain. Serious issues that could have been solved at the political level have been pushed off to technical discussions. Important concerns around credit quality remain where states can push for their preferred offset credits to be allowed on board.

Kelsey Perlman, Policy Officer for Aviation and Land Use said: “The ICAO Assembly Resolution is missing clear references to sustainable development, strong international oversight and overall environmental integrity. This shifts important work on these elements to technical discussions, where political issues are discussed with less public scrutiny.”

The ICAO agreement needs improvement to become effective.  Regional and national efforts must step up to fill the gap in curbing the sector’s climate impact.

Eyes now turn to the international climate negotiations under the UNFCCC and Europe to gauge their response to a measure that has important implications both for the achievement of States’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).



Contacts in Montreal:

Aki Kachi, International Policy Director

[email protected]

+49 157 868 008 55

Kelsey Perlman, Aviation and Land Use Policy Officer

[email protected]

+32 487 13 02 80

Notes to editor:

  • International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA) Press Release here


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