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The pressure’s on for Copenhagen to take the airline industry in hand

19th October, 2009

Countries attending the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s High Level Meeting in Montreal were unable to agree on any specific global measures or targets to reduce greenhouse gases from aircraft, leaving the way open for “business as usual” growth. Unless negotiators at Copenhagen in December can agree on emissions reductions targets, a rapid rise in aviation emissions now seems inevitable.

The Montreal meeting aimed to draw up an ICAO Declaration to be presented at the Copenhagen climate negotiations in December based upon the earlier work of the Group on International Aviation and Climate Change (GIACC). GIACC had recommended improving the average efficiency of the industry by 2% per annum through to 2050. While several countries called for the meeting to show more ambition, many dissenting voices ensured that the Declaration text did little to meet the expectations of those hoping that ICAO would take this opportunity to show leadership.

To date, persuading developing countries to participate in a global sectoral approach when they have no emissions reduction obligations under the climate treaty remains the biggest obstacle to moving forward.

Meanwhile in Bangkok, the parallel negotiations of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) did lead to some discussion on the issue of emissions from international aviation (and shipping), and further talks are planned for the next session in November. NGOs, including AEF, are calling for UNFCCC to set targets for aviation emissions reductions, following a decade of failure at ICAO to agree on a cap for aircraft emissions.