ICAO members have reached agreement on a set of environmental targets for the aviation sector, although it is setting higher fuel efficiency standards than industry was proposing.
After a high-level meeting in Montreal that finished Friday, ICAO released a declaration of environmental goals for aviation – including a 2% annual improvement in fuel efficiency through 2020. This target is higher than the 1.5% proposed by the International Air Transport Association and other aviation industry groups.
However, the ICAO goals did not include the carbon neutral growth goals the industry had offered. IATA and the other groups are aiming for carbon neutral growth by 2020, and by 2050 a 50% reduction in carbon emissions compared with 2005 levels.
IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani said the overall outcome was positive, and the meeting “delivered almost everything we wanted.” There was a risk of ICAO reaching no agreement, but although the assembly was divided on some points, governments were able to present a joint declaration. This will be taken to the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December. IATA has been pushing for such a “global sectorial” approach to environmental goals, rather than separate measures in different regions. Bisgnani has repeatedly warned of the danger of ICAO not reaching consensus on this issue.
The gap between the ICAO and IATA positions on fuel efficiency can be closed by governments doing more to support biofuels and modernizing air traffic management systems, Bisignani said. He also noted that industry was in the rare position of pushing a much more ambitious target than regulators regarding carbon neutral growth.
As well as the 2020 fuel efficiency target, ICAO proposed an “aspirational goal” of further annual 2% improvement from 2021 through 2050. It will evaluate the possibility of more ambitious goals in time for the next ICAO assembly in September 2010. ICAO also said it will establish a process for developing a framework for “economic measures,” and will encourage the development and use of biofuels.