ICAO Members Agree To Historic Aviation And Climate Change Policy


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ICAO Members Agree To Historic Aviation And Climate Change Policy

By Daniel Baxter

October 10, 2010 - The 37th Session of the Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which concluded on Friday, achieved important advancements in aviation safety and aviation security assuring even greater safety performance in the already safest and most secure mode of mass transport in the world.

Reaffirming its leadership role, the meeting adopted a comprehensive resolution to reduce the impact of aviation emissions on climate change. The agreement provides a roadmap for action through 2050 for the 190 Member States of the Organization.

Solidifying its global influence, the Organization signed numerous international agreements, including cooperation agreements with regional civil aviation organizations and bodies from all regions of the world.


The resolution on the environment makes ICAO the first United Nations Agency to lead a sector in the establishment of a globally harmonized agreement for addressing its CO2 emissions. The resolution was adopted with some States expressing reservations and calling upon the ICAO Council to continue its work on specific aspects of the agreement.

This remarkable accomplishment comes only two months before negotiations are again undertaken by these very same States at the 16th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting scheduled for December in Mexico.

"We feel that the Assembly resolution and related decisions are good examples of the spirit of cooperation that can make a substantial contribution to the UNFCCC discussions," said the President of the ICAO Council, Roberto Kobeh Gonz?lez.

This historic agreement builds on achievements since the last ICAO Assembly in 2007, which included a global goal of 2 per cent annual fuel efficiency improvement up to the year 2050, a global framework for the development and deployment of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation, and a target of 2013 for a CO2 standard for aircraft engines.


Additional new initiatives include the development of a framework for market-based measures (MBMs), a feasibility study on the creation of a global MBM scheme and guiding principles for States to use when designing and implementing market-based measures for international aviation, all of which will be reviewed at the next Assembly in 2013.

Other features of the agreement include mechanisms for technology transfer to developing States; a requirement for States to submit to ICAO their action plans for reaching goals set by the Organization; assistance for States to meet their respective objectives; and exemptions from market-based measures for States with very low emissions due to their small traffic base. 

"This agreement demonstrates what can be achieved when parties with divergent and even conflicting views are determined to progress towards results that are in the best interest of an industry as critical to the world economy as aviation," Mr. Kobeh commented.

Addressing the reality that the majority of accidents and serious incidents resulting in fatalities occur during the take-off and landing phases of flights, the Assembly endorsed ICAO's plan to establish a multi-disciplinary approach to address the critical issue of runway safety. This will bring together representatives from airlines, airports, air navigation service providers and regulatory authorities. In May 2012, the Organization will host a Global Runway Safety Symposium in Montr?al, followed by a number of regional workshops to identify and further resolve runway safety issues. 

The Assembly also endorsed a proactive safety strategy based on the sharing of critical safety information among governments and industry stakeholders. Greater availability of information in a transparent process improves the ability to better analyze and predict safety risks and to take action before issues result in accidents. Acting proactively on risk indicators can help to significantly reduce the accidents in all regions of the world.  

In a demonstration of support for the strategy, ICAO signed a Memorandum of Understanding during the Assembly with the United States Department of Transportation, the European Union, and the International Air Transport Association for the creation of a Global Safety Information Exchange. ICAO will coordinate the collection, analysis and exchange of aviation safety information among Exchange Members and disseminate to the global aviation community. 

The Assembly also endorsed ICAO's plan intended to guide the estimated 50 billion dollar investment that States will make in their aviation infrastructure over the next 10 years. Through the Global Air Navigation Plan, ICAO acts as global integrator, facilitating harmonization of a variety of large scale regional programmes. Initial plans will be introduced to States at a Global Air Navigation Forum in September of 2011 and finalized in November of 2012 during the 12th Air Navigation Conference. 

An ICAO diplomatic conference held in Beijing, in September 2010, adopted two international air law instruments for the suppression of unlawful acts relating to civil aviation, to further criminalize the use of civil aircraft as a weapon and of dangerous materials to attack aircraft or other targets on the ground. 

The Assembly built on this achievement by recognizing the need to strengthen aviation security worldwide. In a Declaration, unanimously adopted by participants, international commitment was reaffirmed to enhance aviation security collaboratively and proactively through screening technologies to detect prohibited articles, strengthening international standards, improving security information-sharing and providing capacity-building assistance to States in need.  

The Assembly put its full support behind a comprehensive, new ICAO aviation security strategy. It highlights key priorities, such as identifying and preventing new forms of attack before they occur, streamlining security checks so that they remain effective but are not duplicated unnecessarily, and improving the capabilities of States to oversee aviation security.  

On the eve of the Assembly, ICAO concluded Memoranda of Cooperation with two regional organizations ? the African Union and the European Union ? and four regional civil aviation bodies ? the Arab Civil Aviation Commission, the African Civil Aviation Commission, the European Civil Aviation Conference and the Latin American Civil Aviation Commission. The objective is to help reduce aircraft accident rates, improve security in flight and at airports, and promote the overall sustainable development of the air transport industry. 

In the course of the meeting, 49 States enhanced their relationship with ICAO by working through the Technical Cooperation Bureau for expanding existing agreements, negotiating new agreements and identifying agreements for further development. The ICAO Assembly was attended by a record 1588 participants from 176 Member States and 40 international organizations involved in civil aviation. 

A specialized agency of the United Nations, ICAO was created in 1944 to promote the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation throughout the world. It sets standards and regulations necessary for aviation safety, security, efficiency and regularity, as well as for aviation environmental protection. The Organization serves as the forum for cooperation in all fields of civil aviation among its 190 Contracting States.


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