Countries back UN agency's landmark framework to curb aviation emissions

6 October 2016

Member States of the United Nations civil aviation agency agreed today on a new emissions standard to control global greenhouse gas emissions from international airline flights.

Member States of the United Nations civil aviation agency agreed today on a new emissions standard to control global greenhouse gas emissions from international airline flights.

“It has taken a great deal of effort and understanding to reach this stage, and I want to applaud the spirit of consensus and compromise demonstrated by our member States, industry and civil society,” remarked Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, the Council President of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), adding: “We now have practical agreement and consensus on this issue backed by a large number of States who will voluntarily participate in the global market-based measure – and from its outset.”

According to the agency, the standard, or Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), serves as a positive and sustainable contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Aimed at curbing the growing climate impact of plane travel, it calls for international aviation to address and offset its emissions through the reduction of emissions elsewhere, outside of the international aviation sector.

Further, the new standard is designed to complement the basket of mitigation measures the air transport community is already pursuing to reduce CO2 emissions from international aviation, including, technical and operational improvements and advances in the production and use of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation.

It is now up the agencies members to implement the agreement. ICAO says implementation of the aviation carbon dioxide standard will begin with a pilot phase from 2021 through 2023, followed by a first phase, from 2024 through 2026. Participation in these early stages will be voluntary. With the subsequent phases, from 2027 to 2035, ICAO would like all of its members to implement the standard.

Some exemptions were accepted for least developed countries (LDCs), small island developing States (SIDS), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and States with very low levels of international aviation activity.

Earlier this year UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed ICAO's proposal of the first binding limits on emissions from the aviation industry, saying that carbon emissions from aviation are growing rapidly, with the number of flights worldwide expected to double in the next 15 years.

The decision by ICAO member States comes just as the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change has crossed the final threshold that will trigger its implementation within 30 days: late yesterday, the latest instruments of ratification were accepted in deposit, boosting the number of countries backing the accord to those representing more than 55 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions, as needed for implementation.

The Montreal-based ICAO works with 191 member States and industry groups to reach consensus on international standards, practices and policies for the civil aviation sector.


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