ICAO fails to support inclusion of international flights within EU Emissions Trading Scheme

November 5th, 2011 by WWF

WWF expressed disappointment on 2 November 2011 that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council has failed to support the inclusion of international flights within the European Union emissions trading scheme (EU ETS).

A Flybe De Havilland Canada HC-8-402Q Dash 8 gains altitude after taking off from Guernsey Airport on 22 October 2011 (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The move follows over a decade of inaction by ICAO to make progress in addressing aviation emissions. Moreover, a European Court of Justice (ECJ) Advocate General recently gave her opinion that the ETS is entirely consistent with international law. WWF said that, rather than trying to block the move, which is an important first step towards addressing the sectors rapidly rising emissions, the Council should be putting their energies into supporting it.

Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s global climate and energy initiative, said: “Everyone would prefer to see a global deal for aviation but, until this is in place, we need the ETS as the world’s first mandatory scheme to tackle aviation emissions. It should be used to speed up progress towards a global deal, not detract from it, so ICAO should be giving it their full support.

“Delegations attending the UN climate talks in Durban should also be sending a clear message to ICAO and International Maritime Organization IMO that strong, global agreements to include both aviation and shipping emissions are needed, as well as recognising the importance of these sectors as promising sources of climate finance.”

Aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions – rising 3 to 4% per year according to the IPCC WG III report, 2007.

WWF is calling a faster, time-bound process to reach a robust global solution to address this uncontrolled source of carbon pollution. In the meantime, including aviation in the EU ETS is a positive first step towards controlling pollution from planes.

WWF said that revenues from this measure should be earmarked for climate mitigation and adaptation, and in particular for actions in developing countries. An important principle in the design of a global approach to controlling aviation emissions would be that there is ‘no net incidence’ on developing countries.

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