UN Aviation Agency Moves Forward on Climate Action, Despite Objections from China and Russia

Statement from Annie Petsonk, International Counsel, Environmental Defense Fund

October 4, 2019
Raul Arce-Contreras, +1 212-616-1428, rcontreras@edf.org

The Assembly of the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) today approved, by a solid majority, moving forward with the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). It also committed itself to undertake the research needed to develop, by 2022, a roadmap for a long-term climate goal for international aviation. It took these steps despite objections by China, India and Russia to a study of options for a long-term target, and even though China reiterated its previous objection to the CORSIA goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020. 

“This Assembly moved CORSIA forward with the support of a broad majority of ICAO members. EDF will be watching to see that all airlines implement CORSIA with integrity, and we will press airlines and governments to put in place the declining limits on climatedamaging emissions that are needed to make flying something that is compatible with Paris climate goals.

“Last Friday’s half a million-strong youth climate strike in Montreal disrupted business as usual at ICAO. The strike should be a wake-up call: ICAO needs to take urgent action to slow aviation’s climate impact. ICAO must heed this call.

“In the end, today’s plenary produced a bag of mixed results. While the General Assembly reaffirmed its previous policies to begin to address aviation’s climate impacts, it will need to do much more to chart the kind of course needed to avert dangerous lock-in of climate-damaging aviation infrastructure. 

“Industry leaders recognize that the science behind Greta Thunberg’s “flygskam” movement calls into question the entire future of international aviation, but some governments seem determined not to grapple with this. We look to ICAO to get down to business developing real options for decarbonizing international aviation by 2050, noting that the three-year work program ICAO gave itself to develop a roadmap gives the flight-shame movement three years to mature into even more of a challenge to the business-as-usual approach to aviation’s future.”

  • Annie Petsonk, International Counsel, Environmental Defense Fund  

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