UN body threatens EU aviation emissions plan

For ten years, the UN body responsible for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation has failed in its duty to limit the impact of flights on climate change and now threatens EU plans for aviation emissions trading, according to a new report published today by T&E.

[mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]Under the terms of the 1997 Kyoto protocol, responsibility for reducing emissions from international aviation was given to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a UN body. But over the last decade the organisation has successively failed to endorse, or issued negative statements on every serious policy option for cutting greenhouse gas emissions from the sector (1).

On the table at the next triennial ICAO assembly in Montreal, starting this week (18-28 September), is a document giving guidance to member states on emissions trading for aviation. Though the guidance is not legally-binding, up until now the EU has had a long-standing commitment to act within the ICAO framework.

Discussions of the guidelines over the last year have stalled on a fundamental disagreement between states on whether a country can apply an emissions trading scheme to all carriers flying within, from or to its territory, regardless of their nationality.

Some states, such as America, that do not want their carriers to be part of an EU emissions trading scheme, argue that their carriers should only be obliged to enter the system under the basis of 'mutual agreement' between the states concerned. But these states are intent not to give their agreement, making the scheme instantly unfair and unworkable.

João Vieira, of T&E said: "After a shameful decade of inaction and obstruction ICAO must now give its full support to emissions trading and other measures to combat rapidly-growing aviation emissions. The EU must be prepared to go it alone should ICAO give anything less than full backing to the emissions trading plan."

The ICAO assembly takes place in Montreal, Canada (18-28 September 2007). A vote on the assembly's resolution on environmental matters including guidance on emissions trading will take place on Wednesday 26 September.

Download the report, No flight plan: How the International Civil Aviation Organisation has blocked progress on climate change for a decade

Notes to editors

(1) History of ICAO's record on aviation and climate change policy:
- In a resolution in 1996, reconfirmed in 2001, ICAO requested states not to apply fuel taxes as an environmental measure.
- In 2001 ICAO rejected the concept of CO2 emissions standards for planes. The same year the organisation refused to endorse a closed emissions trading scheme for aviation.
- Having previously said so-called 'emissions charges' were preferable to taxes, by 2004 ICAO had also removed them from the list of options at least for a further three years.
- Finally, in 2004 ICAO ruled out the setting up by itself of a global emissions trading scheme for aviation.
- The result of the above decisions was that by the end of 2004, states wanting to act on greenhouse gas emissions within ICAO's guidelines had just one option left, an initiative by states or regions to include aviation into their own emissions trading schemes.
- ICAO offered to provide guidance for regional emissions trading schemes such as the EU system currently being developed.

Contact the press team

Eoin Bannon
Media Manager
+32 (0)487 717296 
eoin.bannon@transportenvironment.org

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