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Global landmark deal to curb aviation emissions

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Global landmark deal to curb aviation emissions

Photo © Oleg Ivanov - Fotolia

(MONTREAL) - The International Civil Aviation Organisation has agreed a landmark deal to reduce international aviation emission, the first-ever agreement to reduce CO2 emissions in a global sector.

The historic agreement, which follows years of discussion and comes days after European Union ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement, has been hailed by the EU as showing its commitment to keeping global warming well below 2°C.

"This unprecedented agreement opens a new chapter in international aviation", said Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc, "where sustainability finally becomes part of the way we fly. Europe has been continuously advocating global and coordinated action to address the growth of aviation emissions which was otherwise set to reach 300% by 2050. Today European solidarity and perseverance has delivered, allowing us to make a decisive step towards the carbon neutral growth of aviation."

The agreement reached in Montreal by the ICAO Assembly foresees the establishment of a Global Market-Based Measure (GMBM), which will oblige airlines to offset the growth of their CO2 emissions post-2020.

To do so, airlines will buy "emission units" generated by projects reducing CO2 emissions in other sectors of the economy (e.g. renewable energies).

In its first phase (2021-2026), 65 countries will participate on a voluntary basis.

All EU Member States will join from the start. Participating countries include 18 out of the top 20 states with the largest international civil aviation activity. In its second phase (2027-2035) participation is mandatory; except for those exempted (countries with small aviation activities). This means around 80% of the emissions above 2020 levels will be offset by the scheme between 2021 and 2035.

The agreement foresees a review every three years, which will guarantee that the scheme can be continuously improved, and that its climate objective is achieved and improved over time, consistent with the objective of limiting global temperature increase to well below 2°C, as agreed under the Paris Agreement.

The Assembly also formally endorsed the first ever CO2 standard for aircraft, after six years of international negotiations.

The ICAO now needs to develop all the remaining elements and implementation tools to allow the GMBM to become operational in 2021. Participating states are expected to take all necessary steps to develop relevant implementing measures at domestic level.

In the light of the outcome of the ICAO Assembly, the Commission is likely to make a proposal to review the scope of the European Union Emissions Trading System.

While the Paris Agreement will enter into force in November following ratification by the EU earlier this week, it does not explicitly mention aviation and ICAO was tasked to address emissions in this sector.

The EU has been among the main advocates of the GMBM. The EU also committed to support the implementation of the GMBM in lesser developed States.

The EU aviation sector overall supports around 5 million jobs and contributes EUR 110 billion to the EU GDP every year. Its future competitiveness goes hand-in-hand with greater environmental sustainability. Reducing aviation's environmental impacts is therefore a priority area of the Aviation Strategy for Europe adopted in December 2015.

Agreements made at the Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation - background guide

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