Reaction: Aviation climate deal agreed in Montreal

A visionary approach or a green myth? Industry groups and campaigners give their verdict

(Pic: Pixabay)


Countries agreed a landmark climate deal for international aviation in Montreal on Thursday.

The deal, under the International Civil Aviation Organization, establishes a carbon offset scheme for airlines starting in 2021 and calls for a “long term global aspirational goal” for the sector.

As Climate Home revealed, that long term goal will not be required to align with the global warming limits agreed in Paris – although 1.5C and 2C is mentioned elsewhere in the text.

Reaction is flooding in from industry and green groups. Here’s a round-up.

Mike Halferty, transport minister of the Marshall Islands

“Just one day after the Paris Agreement crossed the thresholds required for entry into force, we have taken a big step towards keeping the temperature goals at its heart within reach. We all know that unless every country and every sector takes action, there will be no way for us to keep warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“While this scheme is not perfect, it will be improved over time. But this scheme gives us our best shot at urgently stabilizing emissions from international aviation by 2020, and it will help give my country a pathway to survival.”

Violeta Bulc, transport commissioner, European Union

“This unprecedented agreement opens a new chapter in international aviation, where sustainability finally becomes part of the way we fly. This outcome would not have been possible without the solidarity and commitment of the High Ambition Coalition.”

Dionisio Méndez Mayora, Mexico’s ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization

“The approval of this mechanism is a significant first achievement. Although we still need to develop its functioning and implement it, we now have a global scheme that will contribute to address the challenge of climate change.

“We are confident that the leadership and commitment that countries have shown in the international aviation community will be an example of the cooperation among ICAO member states and all interested stakeholders.”

Lou Leonard, WWF

“Just hours after celebrating the Paris Agreement’s early entry into force, countries at ICAO are sending mixed signals about their ambition to reduce emissions by weakening the link between the aviation mechanism and the long term goals set in Paris.

“Going forward, countries need to build on this deal and create new policies to ensure global aviation does its fair share and doesn’t undermine our ability to deliver on Paris’ global temperature goals.

“Through an upcoming process in the ICAO environment committee, countries need to rebuild the connection between the Paris Agreement and the emissions goals of this new mechanism.”

Michael Gill, Air Transport Action Group

“The industry took an unprecedented step to ask for a global measure to deal with the growth in aviation carbon dioxide emissions from 2020 onwards. What was a visionary approach seven years ago has today become a reality…

“Negotiators in Paris had faith in ICAO to deliver an agreement for international air transport emissions tailored to the unique circumstances of our sector. That faith has truly paid off and, today, governments have approved a scheme that will fill one of the remaining pieces of the climate change challenge.”

Phil MacDonald, Sandbag

“Without the EU taking the first step, we would never have had this global agreement on aviation. For now, it is only a carbon offset system, but the aviation industry needs to deliver real emission reductions if it is to play its part in the Paris Agreement. Business as usual is no longer an option for any industry.

“Now the EU must stick to its guns and strengthen its own aviation carbon market, continuing to push the international community to turn the global scheme into a climate policy with teeth.”

Gustavo Silva-Chávez, Forest Trends

“The airline industry and governments today embraced the use of a global offset plan to help them meet their carbon-reducing pledges. This opens the door for the aviation sector to reduce its emissions in a way that reinforces the commitments in the Paris Agreement soon entering into force.

“Airlines should meet their pledges by financing forest protection – providing an infusion of funding that will be critical to conserving the world’s forests.”

Bill Hemmings, Transport & Environment

“Airline claims that flying will now be green are a myth. Taking a plane is the fastest and cheapest way to fry the planet and this deal won’t reduce demand for jet fuel one drop. Instead offsetting aims to cut emissions in other industries.

“Today is not mission accomplished for ICAO, Europe or industry. The world needs more than voluntary agreements. Without robust environmental safeguards the offsets won’t cut emissions, leaving us with a deal that amounts to little more than adding the price of a cup of coffee to a ticket.”

Thomas Reynaert, Airlines 4 Europe

“We applaud States and the various stakeholders for working very hard through the ICAO system and finding the necessary compromises to establish the first sectoral deal to reduce CO2 at global level…

“Following the ICAO agreement, there is now an opportunity to have a fresh look at environmental regulation in the European context and to review existing measures addressing CO2 emissions from aviation.”

Tim Johnson, Aviation Environment Federation

“Viewed globally, this is a landmark deal that addresses a gap in the plan to deliver the Paris Agreement, namely how to tackle the soaring emissions from international aviation. But there are gaps in coverage and many issues still to be decided that will determine its effectiveness.

“We urge ICAO and states to view the goal of keeping net emissions at 2020 levels as the start of a process. ICAO will now need to show strong leadership to strengthen the goal overtime in line with the effort to deliver Paris.”

Nathaniel Keohane, Environmental Defense Fund

“This agreement positions aviation to be an engine for achieving reductions in carbon pollution around the globe, while spurring innovations to reduce the sector’s own emissions. Coming the day after the Paris Agreement passed the threshold for entry into force, ICAO’s action sends a powerful signal worldwide that governments, airlines and the aviation industry, and civil society together are recognizing the urgency of climate action.

“Achieving carbon neutral growth from 2020 is a significant step in its own right. And with robust implementation, the market-based measure can serve as a springboard to greater ambition, not only for the aviation sector, but – through market linkages worldwide – also for emitting sectors more broadly.”

Aki Kachi, Carbon Market Watch

“After heartfelt appeals for action and laudable voluntary participation from vulnerable countries such as Burkina Faso and the Marshall Islands, the fact that the already insufficient Carbon Neutral Goal from 2020 levels will not be met underlines the need for further action.”

Dirk Forrister, International Emissions Trading Association

“IETA has always supported the development of market mechanisms as the lowest-cost way to achieve significant reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, and we are pleased that the global aviation industry has come to the same conclusion.

“We applaud the leadership of the countries and airlines that have indicated their intent to participate in early market development, which will both help the global environment and bolster public confidence in the program.”

Read more on: Aviation