Aviation central to tackling climate change, says Ban Ki-moon

UN Secretary General urges states to hasten towards aviation agreements, as high level meetings commence in Montreal

Pic: Flickr / Mike Miley

By Sophie Yeo

Ban Ki-moon has encouraged the nations meeting in Montreal this week to come to a conclusion on how to reduce aviation emissions.

ICAO, the aviation arm of the UN, will bring together 191 countries over two weeks, where a key decision will be made on whether to regulate the carbon emissions from the highly polluting aviation sector.

The resolution, on the agenda to be discussed today, asks countries to commit to setting up a framework for a global market based measure to be decided on in 2016 and implemented in 2020.

“You are central to the climate change and sustainable development agenda,” Ban told the 38th ICAO Assembly in a video, in a reference to the aim of the UN to set up a package of Sustainable Development Goals to come into force in 2015, on the expiry of the Millennium Development Goals.

“The benefits of air travel should be available to all, but they should be provided as efficiently and cleanly as possible.

“We have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change is a threat to economies large and small, to the development and well-being of societies everywhere, and to the health of the planet.”

The EU ‘stopped the clock’ on its own emissions trading scheme to provide the political breathing space for a global deal to take place. It is due to restart in January 2014, and the EU has agreed to compromise on its scope if the draft is passed at the Montreal gathering.

But for many, and in particular NGOs, the resolution on the table at the current Assembly does not go far enough, signifying further delay when many had hoped that this would be the year when a market based mechanism could finally be agreed.

Jean Leston, transport policy manager at WWF-UK said in a statement after the resolution was finalised earlier this month, “If there was a competition for foot dragging, ICAO would have won it long ago.

“The world has waited 16 long years for ICAO to decide how it is going to reduce aviation emissions… It’s now down to Assembly members to make sure that ICAO delivers on its promise to seal the deal at the forthcoming 38th Assembly.”

In addition, a recent paper from Manchester Metropolitan University showed that it was essential that a measure to reduce the emissions from aviation was introduced as soon as possible, due to the way in which carbon dioxide builds up in the atmosphere over time.

“The longer we delay, the greater the costs – to communities, businesses, economies and the planet,” added Ban.

“But, if we act together, we can rise to the challenge and build a better more secure world.

“I count on this meeting to explore how the aviation sector can limit carbon emissions and contribute to sustainable development.”

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