Global Aviation Organization Reaches Agreement on Climate Change

Representatives from the global airline industry on Friday agreed to a plan to reduce aviation’s impact on climate change.

All 190 nations that are part of the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) agreed to halt the growth of aviation emissions by 2020, while improving fuel efficiency at a rate of 2% a year until 2050. The organization will alos develop a CO2 emissions standard for aircrafts by the year 2013. 

The resolution adopted by the ICAO at its meeting in Montreal, Canada, also explicitly acknowledges teh importance of market-based measures for improved environmental performance in the industry–a statement that could improve disputes between the airline industry and the European Union, which intends to include foreign air carriers in its Emission Trading Scheme begining in 2012. 

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Comments on “Global Aviation Organization Reaches Agreement on Climate Change”

  1. Jeff Gazzard

    Oh well, so that’s all right then – the aviation industry loves ICAO and together they will save the planet.

    Not so, I’m afraid – not even close.

    According to IATA’s valedictory press release, the ICAO resolution calls for:

    “Improving fuel efficiency by 2% annually to 2050” – but even if a 2% figure can be acheived, a target questioned by the UK’s Committee on Climate Change recently who estimated a 1% annual gain as an ambitious but realistic outcome over the next 40 years, emissions growth of 3/4% annually outstrips this “aspirational” goal and aviation’s greenhouse gas impacts simply get worse over time.

    “Striving to achieve a collective medium-term aspirational goal of capping aviation’s carbon emissions from 2020” – 10 years more delay is in the only vital statistic the reader can glean from this fact-free paragraph. Climate change is the single biggest global environmental threat facing us all – urgent action is what’s needed, not another utterly irresponsible decade of delay from a major polluting industry.

    “A global CO2 standard for aircraft engines with a target date of 2013” – worthwhile but only if an ambitious standard for each class of aircraft is the outcome, one that drives rather than follows already-available technology. ICAO frankly has a poor, lowest common denominator history when setting technology performance standards.

    ICAO is simply unable to deal effectively with complex multi-faceted environmental issues that carry global political overtones and will always endorse the thinly-disguised “business-as-usual”
    option the industry demands. Imagine the outcry if, say, the World Health Organisation had been captured by the tobacco industry in this way whilst trying to control tobacco-related diseases? ICAO is, I’m afraid, the aviation industry’s poodle.

    Industry’s in-built bias simply confirms the belief that ICAO’s mazy, all-over-the-shop output is the positive “green” outcome they wanted and that it might too all somehow work as an effective programme, an interesting display of cognitive dissonance. Of course,it’s all spin.

    There is, sadly, zero content that might actually reduce gross emissions from air transport by 2050 in any meaningful way, just a massive, carefully crafted emissions reduction avoidance scheme.

    There is, however, another route – but only if the sophisticated and entirely reasonable European Union Aviation ETS is adopted by ICAO as the global gold standard. I’ve looked through all the ICAO resolutions but this bit’s missing, I’m afraid. I wonder why?

    Jeff Gazzard
    Aviation Environment Federation

    Reply

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