Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading US airlines, today applauded the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for reaching an agreement to implement a global carbon offset system as a complement to industry and government advances in technology, sustainable alternative aviation fuels, operations and infrastructure measures to support the goal of achieving carbon neutral growth in international aviation from 2020.
Specifically, the agreement reached by the 191 nations at the ICAO Triennial Assembly represents the first global market-based measure (GMBM) agreed to for greenhouse gas emissions for an individual sector. The carbon offsetting system will be phased in starting in 2021 on a voluntary basis and will become mandatory for all countries, excluding the least developed countries and nations with very low levels of aviation activity, in 2027. Sixty-five countries, including the United States, have already signed up for the voluntary phases, representing both developed and developing nations and covering a wide geographic scope.
“Today’s historic agreement affirms that aviation continues to lead the way toward a greener future,” said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio. “We thank the United States government for its steadfast commitment to building global consensus for this groundbreaking agreement and we remain committed to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to further build on our already strong environmental record.”
A4A Vice President, Environmental Affairs Nancy Young highlighted the importance of achieving a single, global market-based measure, which prevents countries from imposing unilateral measures on international aviation, such as the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).
“We applaud ICAO and its member nations from around the world for reaching a global agreement to address climate change in support of our commitment to achieving carbon neutral growth in international aviation from 2020,” said Young. “Having a single, globally-agreed market-based measure for international aviation ensures its role as a complement to our considerable technology, sustainable alternative aviation fuels, operations and infrastructure initiatives, sending a clear message that airlines will remain a green engine of economic growth into the future.”
Under the terms of the agreement, only flights to and from covered countries will be subject to the carbon offset requirements. Notably, the GMBM is in the form of a carbon offsetting system, not a cap-and-trade system or a carbon emissions tax.
The agreement on the GMBM is the second, major climate action to be agreed at ICAO this year. In February 2016, ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) recommended adoption of a set of carbon dioxide certification standards for future aircraft. The ICAO Council formally endorsed the CAEP-recommended standards in June 2016 and the final ICAO standards are expected to be published in early 2017.