UN aviation agency adopts historic global aviation climate agreement

EDF statement from Nathaniel Keohane, Vice President, Global Climate

October 6, 2016
Jennifer Andreassen, jandreassen@edf.org, +1-202-288-4867

Environmental Defense Fund welcomes the decision of the 191-nation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at its 39th Assembly in Montreal, adopting a global market-based measure limiting the net carbon dioxide emissions of international flights to 2020 levels. This historic agreement – the first to limit the total emissions of an entire global industry sector – was adopted with extremely broad support of the ICAO member states. To date, some 65 countries have signaled their interest in participating in the measure from the get-go. EDF estimates that some 2.5 billion tonnes of emissions would need to be reduced or offset based on the covered flights.

“This agreement positions aviation to be an engine for achieving reductions in carbon pollution around the globe, while spurring innovations to reduce the sector’s own emissions.  Coming the day after the Paris Agreement passed the threshold for entry into force, ICAO’s action sends a powerful signal worldwide that governments, airlines and the aviation industry, and civil society together are recognizing the urgency of climate action.

“Achieving carbon neutral growth from 2020 is a significant step in its own right.  And with robust implementation, the market-based measure can serve as a springboard to greater ambition, not only for the aviation sector, but – through market linkages worldwide – also for emitting sectors more broadly.

“The agreement is not perfect – few are.  But it does provide a vital basis for moving forward. The first key step will be developing strong standards to ensure transparency, environmental integrity, and even broader participation. EDF is committed to participating in that work. 

“Securing the MBM, together with strong standards for implementation which remain to be developed, offers the potential to spur finance for low-carbon development, including in developing countries that depend on air travel for connectedness and economic growth. Capacity-building for implementing the MBM needs to begin right away, in parallel with the finalization of technical standards, in order to ensure that the MBM secures even broader participation than the more than three-quarters of anticipated emissions growth that is currently set to be covered by the agreement.”

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