The global civil aviation community has made progress in the effort to reduce carbon emission, with new guidelines to half the current level by 2050.
Emerging from the 40th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Montreal, Canada, inter-governments’ robust discussions arrived at two critical outcomes.
First, the ICAO council was mandated to report to the next Assembly on options for the adoption of a long-term aspirational goal for reducing carbon emissions from international aviation.
Second, the Assembly passed a resolution that reaffirmed and strengthened its support for the successful implementation of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA)—the world’s first global carbon offsetting scheme.
Apparently impressed by the agreements, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) commended the “significant progress” made by governments.
Recall that a decade ago, the aviation industry agreed on a long-term goal to cut aviation emissions to half the levels of 2005 by 2050 and is working on a pathway to achieve that goal.
This Assembly marks the first time that ICAO member states have agreed to consider a long-term goal for governments to reduce aviation emissions—a move that is strongly welcomed by airlines.
IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac, said sustainability was critical to earning aviation’s license to grow and spread its many economic and social benefits, though decarbonising the sector was a major challenge.
“Our focus is on cutting emissions to half 2005 levels by 2050 and we are making consistent progress. Flying today is 17.3 per cent more fuel-efficient than a decade ago. From 2020—with the help of CORSIA—the sector’s growth will be carbon neutral.
“The strong support of governments for developing a UN-backed long-term goal for reducing emissions would support us in those efforts and take us to the next step. National policy measures aligned to a global long-term emissions reduction goal will enable the industry to work even more effectively on crucial opportunities like commercialising sustainable aviation fuels and more efficient air traffic management,” de Juniac said.
Meanwhile, the enhanced and strong support for CORSIA will shore-up the important step of capping aviation emissions from 2020. CORSIA will offset the growth of international flight emissions from 2021, generating some $40 billion of aviation-funded climate finance by 2035.
“We need to implement CORSIA successfully. It’s essential to our promise of carbon-neutral growth. This Assembly has sent a clear message that governments are committed to CORSIA and want to broaden participation from the voluntary stage. We look forward to seeing these commitments delivered as CORSIA begins—particularly by those states that are undermining CORSIA with additional taxes or charges,” said de Juniac.
The Assembly also made decisions on many other critical issues and initiatives. Highlights include:
Passengers with disabilities: The Assembly requested the ICAO Council to develop a work program on accessibility for passengers with disabilities in order to reach for a disability-inclusive air transport system. This aligns with IATA’s call for governments to adopt a globally harmonised approach to enabling passengers with disabilities to travel safely and with dignity.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drones): The Assembly directed the ICAO Council to urgently consider the establishment of a high-level body with the industry to regularly provide strategic advice to the Council concerning innovation. This includes issues like the integration of UAS into airspace. This aligns with IATA’s call for states to work together through ICAO and in cooperation with industry to develop provisions for these airspace new entrants.
Unruly passengers: The Assembly resolved to urge states to ratify Montreal Protocol of 2014 which modernizes measures to deal with unruly passengers—a measure that IATA fully supports.
One ID: The Assembly endorsed the IATA One ID project which highlights the benefits of biometric recognition to secure and facilitate the passenger clearance process. The need for robust data protection policies—built into the One ID project—was also stressed.
Harmful Interference with Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS): The Assembly called for measures to manage and reduce the impact from harmful interference to GNSS on the safety and efficiency of aircraft and air traffic management operations. This aligns with IATA’s call for measures to reduce the vulnerability of GNSS.
Infrastructure shortcomings: The Assembly agreed that governments should implement the necessary infrastructure components to meet existing and future demand in alignment with the Global Air Navigation Plan. The Assembly also agreed that governments need to work with aviation stakeholders to identify and address infrastructure challenges in a timely manner. This aligns with IATA’s call for governments to address infrastructure shortcomings in areas of efficient services, the capacity to meet demand, and industry engagement.
A key theme running through the Assembly discussions was the need to modernize the way in which ICAO works, including with stakeholders. IATA has worked with ICAO since its inception 75 years ago to ensure that the important work of ICAO is fully informed by the industry’s technical and operational experience. We stand ready to support the search for a more effective framework to enhance this partnership.
“Over many decades we have successfully supported ICAO in setting the standards and recommended practices that have facilitated the safe and efficient development of global connectivity. And we are working together so that aviation can successfully tackle the challenge of climate change. Everyone has a unique role to play. But aviation is a team effort. This Assembly demonstrated once again how this cooperation is moving aviation towards an even safer, more efficient and sustainable future,” said de Juniac.