COP 21: IATA Statement on the Conclusion of the Paris Agreement
Geneva, December 12, 2015: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released the following statement from its Director General and CEO Tony Tyler on the conclusion of the COP 21 in Paris.
“IATA welcomes the historic COP 21 Paris Agreement which will provide additional momentum to Governments for the negotiations at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on an aviation emissions agreement, which are expected to conclude next year. The aviation industry, through ICAO, is working towards securing its goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020, and the positive outcome of the Paris conference gives more impetus to Governments to achieve this.”
Why didn’t international transport emissions appear in the text?
- Whilst we were surprised by the lack of reference to international transport emissions in the final agreement, it is understandable that in the course of multilateral negotiations, some items have higher priority than others.
- It seems that the French Presidency gave logical precedence to those matters which required time to negotiate, but were vital to the overall agreement.
- As international aviation is already being addressed at ICAO under the Chicago Convention, it was deemed by a number of negotiators to be not necessary to address these sectors in this particular agreement.
- In the scheme of the Paris Agreement, aviation and shipping remain a less central pillar, but of course to us aviation is the main subject – in that sense it is useful to have a separate UN agency, ICAO, devoted to exploring the complexities of dealing with the matter.
Where does this leave the ICAO discussions?
- The ICAO discussions will continue – it was always a parallel track to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) discussions. However, now that there is some clarity from the Paris Agreement on issues such as differentiation, it is our hope that this will facilitate the ICAO talks and deliver the needed agreement next September.
- The ICAO Assembly in September 2016 will be proceeded by a range of relevant meetings, including regional outreach dialogues and a high-level conference.
- The aviation industry will be undertaking a comprehensive program of engagement in the lead-up to the ICAO Assembly, supporting governments to come to an agreement.
- The aviation sector has stated that its preferred option for an MBM is a mandatory global offsetting scheme, to be agreed at the 2016 ICAO Assembly and then ready for implementation from 2020. It should offset all growth in international aviation emissions from 2020, effectively capping aviation emissions at 2020 levels, whilst the carbon offsets used will help fund climate mitigation action, predominantly in developing nations.
Who was pushing for international transport emissions to be included? Who was against it?
- Whilst we do not know what was taking place in the closed negotiating sessions, we understand the European Union made a concerted push to include emissions from international transport in the agreement.
- In public statements under one of the subsidiary bodies of the talks, the ‘G77’ group of all developing nations made a strong statement about allowing ICAO and IMO to continue their work, and that the issue should not be discussed at the UNFCCC.
- We suspect that the differing views on this issue meant a compromise was too difficult to reach in the short time available for discussions, and so the matter was dropped.
- We believe there was an understanding that the ICAO process was anyway well underway irrespective of any Paris discussions and that Parties felt comfortable with that progress.
What did the aviation industry want from the Paris Agreement?
- We needed COP21 to deliver an ambitious climate agreement in order to facilitate increased momentum to the ICAO discussions – we believe this has been achieved.
- Any mention of aviation should simply have provided guidance to the ICAO process, without being prescriptive in such a way that would complicate the ICAO talks.
- The end result – no text on aviation and shipping – was not what we expected, but importantly it also does not force concepts into ICAO that would be inappropriate for the international aviation sector, which needs a single global mechanism.
Why does international transport not have to do an INDC – doesn’t it mean that these emissions have no target and are free to continue to emit?
- INDC stands for ‘intended nationally-determined contributions’ – ‘nationally’ being the key word. Aviation and shipping do not fit neatly into this construct and so have their own processes.
- But that doesn’t mean emissions from these sectors are not being tackled through international processes.
- Whilst we can’t speak for the maritime sector, which has its own modalities, we are confident that the process underway at ICAO will help aviation contribute its climate responsibility.
- The industry has set short-, medium- and long-term goals and is fully prepared to play its part.
- Next year, ICAO will deliver a CO2 efficiency standard for new aircraft and a global market-based measure to offset post-2020 growth.
- The industry is also continuing to invest billions of dollars in new aircraft, deliver thousands of operational efficiency measures, explore the deployment of alternative energy sources and work in collaboration to improve infrastructure.
- Our industry’s climate action framework helps to deliver climate impact mitigation whilst also allowing growth of the sector – particularly important to developing and emerging economies to help build their connectivity, trade and tourism.