UN agency expected to approve global aviation emissions deal at general assembly

29 September 2016 | Mitigation

MONTREAL — The world's first climate deal governing the aviation sector is on the cusp of being ratified, as a United Nations agency gathering got underway in Montreal on Tuesday amid criticism from environmental groups that a proposal doesn't go far enough.

Delegates to the UN International Civil Aviation Organization general assembly are being asked to approve, within the next two weeks, a program for the industry to become carbon neutral after 2020 and to halve net emissions by 2050 compared to 2005.

Canadian Transportation Minister Marc Garneau said strong approval by the 191 countries participating in ICAO will be a significant achievement and send a strong signal to other sectors examining their environmental footprints.

"I think it will set the tone because if it goes as well as we hope it will, it will give more momentum to all the other facets of the Paris agreement," he told reporters prior to addressing the assembly.

International aviation was excluded from the Paris climate change agreement reached last year by nearly 200 countries, including Canada.

With Monday's support from Australia, 59 ICAO countries representing about 80 per cent of international flights have agreed to provide their support to a proposal that has been watered down to a voluntary system between 2021 and 2026.

However, several large developing countries, including India, Russia and Brazil have voiced concerns.

Even before debate begins on Wednesday, ICAO council president Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu predicted the proposal will be adopted.

"We can say that we're already successful," he said at a news conference.

The effort to tackle carbon emissions joins other green initiatives to improve aircraft technology, operational measures at airports and expand the use of sustainable alternative fuels.

Aviation accounts for two per cent of harmful greenhouse gas carbon emissions. However, pressure is mounting, with the amount of travel by air forecasted to double by 2030 with more than six-billion passengers.

An association representing the international airline industry expects a deal could be approved within days or early next week.

"There is a serious momentum behind that," said Alexandre de Juniac, CEO of the International Air Transportation Association.

While it would have preferred a mandatory system, IATA said a phased-in system with a voluntary component was the price to pay in a political approval process.

Carbon offsets are expected to cost the airline industry between about US$9 billion and US$25 billion by 2035, largely depending on the cost of carbon. In the worst-case scenario, the costs represent about one per cent of airline revenues. Each airline will determine, based on its cost structure, how much of this will be passed on to passengers.



Source: Metro News