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Exec support for ICAO meeting on carbon offset scheme in air transport

MONTREAL, Que.–A High Level Meeting being convened by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on May 11 has received executive-level support from the aviation industry, as leaders representing all parts of the sector encouraged governments to progress their deliberations on a global carbon offsetting scheme for air transport.

The ICAO discussions have been gathering pace since the UN specialized aviation agency agreed to the development of an economic mechanism at its Assembly in 2013. The next such meeting, in September this year, will decide on the design of the scheme in which CO2 emissions growth from 2020 is offset through the international carbon markets, capping the growth in international aviation emissions. It is seen as part of a basket of measures to tackle aviation’s CO2 emissions, alongside new technology, use of sustainable alternative fuel, improved operations and more efficient infrastructure.

“We are now less than five months away from the crucial ICAO Assembly, at which industry hopes governments will agree to go ahead with the global offsetting scheme. We have come a long way and made impressive progress. But key negotiating points remain and we encourage our government colleagues to spend the next few days ironing out any remaining differences at the ICAO High Level Meeting,” said Michael Gill, Executive Director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), at the Global Sustainable Aviation Forum.

Following technical and political discussions, ICAO developed a proposal for a global offsetting scheme, which was presented to States in January. Consultations have taken place since then through regional education and outreach sessions. The High Level Meeting is expected to make further progress, but sticking points such as differentiation between developing and developed economies remain.

“These discussions were never going to be easy – this is the first time any sector has attempted such a global mechanism. But the industry is fully behind the plan, as evidenced by an open letter sent to governments from 28 industry chief executives in September last year. We have followed that today with a Communiqué from the Global Sustainable Aviation Forum, outlining the industry’s thoughts on the process,” Gill commented.

The Communiqué emphasised:

  • the need for an ‘aviation’ solution that tries to avoid market distortion with a single, global, mechanism for air transport;
  • that a global mechanism is preferable from a cost perspective to a patchwork of different measures;
  • that, despite current questions on the complexity of implementing a scheme, the aviation sector is used to more complex regulations and it would soon become a normal part of the business;
  • the fact that the offsetting scheme was just one part of a series of measures needed to help aviation reduce its climate change impact.

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