October 11, 2010

Goals Set For Aviation Emissions

Putting a cap on international aviation emissions by 2020 while improving fuel efficiency has become a top goal of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The United Nations agency approved the goal, which is not binding on any of the organization's 190 members, in a final motion late Friday during a meeting of its general assembly.

The agency also collectively supported a comprehensive aviation security plan that looks for new ways for identifying and preventing terror attacks, more efficient security checks, and helping states improve their capabilities.

US President Barack Obama delivered a statement Saturday commending the security declaration as a "historic new foundation for aviation security that will better protect our world from evolving terrorist threats."

The ICAO also reaffirmed the goal of improving fuel efficiency by about 2 percent per year through 2050. Members of the agency also agreed to "work together to strive to achieve a collective medium term global aspirational goal of keeping the global net carbon emissions from international aviation from 2020 at the same level."

The ICAO acknowledged, in a press release, that some member states expressed concerns about the resolution but said its passage has made ICAO the first UN agency to lead a sector in "a globally harmonized agreement for addressing its CO2 emissions."

Helen Kearns, spokeswoman for Siim Kallas, the European Commissioner for Transportation, said this is a "major achievement."

"Contracting states will have to submit to ICAO how they intend to reach their target," she told AFP. The resolution also does not prevent states from going "further and faster and acknowledges certain parties would do so," she said.

The resolution endorses a European strategy for imposing a strict carbon emissions tax beginning in 2012 on flights destined for or coming from Europe, which has drawn legal challenge from US airlines.

This is "historic," said the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

"For the first time, we have globally agreed aspirational goals to stabilize emissions," said IATA's director general, Giovanni Bisignani, adding the agreement is "a good first step that prepares the way for future achievements."


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