The announcement late on Monday night of ICAO’s CO2 standard for new aircraft has been applauded by a number of notable people:
Firstly, the President of ICAO Council (the UN agency that secured the deal), Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, highlighting the strategic approach of the aviation’s climate action said that: “Every step taken in support of ICAO’s full basket of measures for environmental improvement is an important one, and I am sure the Council will be deeply appreciative of the this latest CAEP achievement.” and “the goal of this process is ultimately to ensure that when the next generation of aircraft types enter service, there will be guaranteed reductions in international CO2 emissions.”
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon highlighted the groundbreaking nature of the deal, saying “The ICAO's new rules come after years of negotiations and are the first time that governments have set emissions standards for the aviation industry.”
The White House, too, got in on the act saying that "the U.S. pushed hard for a strong standard and I think we are very pleased with the result." This backed up earlier comments from the US Federal Aviation Administration, which stated “we are encouraged by this success and believe it puts us on a promising path to secure a robust market-based measure later this year.”
On the other side of the Atlantic, the European Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, said "this agreement is an important step to curb aviation emissions”, with the EU playing “a central role in brokering this deal”.
The French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, who played a leading role in securing the Paris agreement on climate change in December hailed the deal, saying “In keeping with the Paris climate agreement, this new standard will be a key component of the civil aviation sector’s contribution to reducing CO2 emissions. It must be complemented by a carbon emissions offset mechanism, which the ICAO is due to adopt in September 2016 during its triennial assembly. As COP21 president, I will be keeping a close eye on this.”
Whilst there seems to be a good deal of support from the industry and governments who put in so much hard work to securing the deal, it’s also fair to say that there was a predictably unimpressed response from some environmental groups. Any global deal like this was never going to meet their objectives and of course the very nature of multilateral negotiations means that a balance of competing interests would need to be met. Ironically, if the environmental groups had got their wishes of the most stringent possible standard, it may have caused higher CO2 emissions with airlines being forced to keep flying older model aircraft because the technology was not available to meet the standard. As it happens, the CO2 Standard reached has achieved the best balance of environmental benefit, technological feasibility, economic reasonableness and consideration of interdependencies. It embodies an appropriate level of regulatory pressure whilst allowing the marketplace to determine the makeup of the global aircraft fleet.
Now, of course, all eyes are on the ICAO Assembly later this year, it is expected that a global deal on a new carbon offset scheme for aviation is set to be agreed.