Speech: Dr Aliu, President of the ICAO Council

Environmental Climate solutions

President of the ICAO Council, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, addressed the ATAG’s Global Sustainable Aviation Summit:

Good morning everyone. It’s my great pleasure and indeed an honour to be with you all here today.

As leaders in aviation, each and every one of us is fully aware that growth is a fact of life in our sector. The global air transport network may well be doubling in size in terms of flights and passengers over the next 15 years, but it has also done that twice before since the mid-1970s.

This steady growth is very positive, given that it represents a clear validation of the importance of air transport to the social and economic vitality of travellers, businesses, and ultimately States.

But in an era of climate change and, increasingly, climate action, the growth of any industry sector brings with it a number of critical concerns, and certainly the need for strong and practical commitments.

At ICAO’s 38th Assembly in 2013, our Member States agreed to finalize by the next ICAO Assembly in 2016 a new CO2 Standard for new aircraft entering service, and the design for a global market-based measure (GMBM) to address international aviation emissions. It was also agreed that the GMBM should be implemented by 2020. ICAO, governments, civil society and the industry have been working in concerted partnership to deliver a practical proposal next year, and aviation must remain fully unified in these efforts to achieve this progress. To meet the 2020 carbon neutral goal we must be united and committed to find a practical, robust and environmentally sound agreement on the global MBM by 2016. Your resolve is crucial in this regard.

2015 is a critically important year in terms of ICAO’s preparation for our next Assembly in September 2016, and the UNFCCC COP21 this December at the Paris-Le Bourget site is an important milestone in that process. This landmark climate event is expected to bring together some 40,000 participants, making it one of the largest climate conferences ever undertaken.

COP21 will be seeking to reach the world’s first universal and legally binding agreement to effectively combat climate change, and in so doing bring greater impetus to the much needed global transition towards resilient, low-carbon societies and economies.
A positive outcome at COP21 will be crucial to encouraging ICAO Member States to make further progress at ICAO’s 39th Assembly on reducing emissions from international aviation, including the agreement on a realistic and effective GMBM for international aviation.

Two weeks ago, as part of our preparations in advance of COP21, ICAO held a Global Aviation Partnerships on Emissions Reduction Seminar. The event successfully highlighted how partnerships are essential to global climate action, and assist in strengthening and improving a wide range of ICAO environmental initiatives. It also addressed aircraft recycling and life-cycle aspects from an environmental perspective.
And just last week, at the UN Summit in New York, the new post-2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted. ICAO participated in this event, highlighting the substantial contribution of aviation to the successful realization of eight of the SDGs.

All of us here today recognize the historic importance of partnerships and collaboration in driving practical consensus and progress in air transport, and so we should all welcome this expanding level of emissions reduction collaboration as a very positive development for our sector, and for our planet.

Through partnerships and visionary commitments, the international aviation sector has been actively progressing its own strategy to address its CO2 emissions. We are doing so through ICAO’s global aspirational goals of improving fuel efficiency by two per cent per year, while stabilizing our sector’s CO2 emissions at 2020 levels through a variety of means. These include technological and operational improvements, alternative fuels and market-based measures.

Action on ICAO’s emissions reduction goals requires adequate financial resources within the sector itself. In this regard, both ICAO and industry have been strongly united in our position on any proposed use of international aviation as a potential source for the mobilization of general revenues to finance climate programmes in other sectors. Reliable air services are too fundamental to local and regional development priorities, and States must consistently be made aware of the negative impacts which aviation taxes and fees can have on their longer-term, broad-based and sustainable economic prosperity. Your active role in conveying this clear message is paramount leading to COP21.

This touches upon several of the priorities ICAO is pursuing under our No Country Left Behind initiative, but it also raises some important considerations regarding aviation development in less prosperous States more generally. ICAO’s capacity building and financing strategy to support action of our Member States to reduce emissions, in particular the ICAO State Action Plans initiative and two ongoing projects supported by the European Commission as well as the UNDP and Global Environment Facility (GEF) are concrete examples of our action and resolve consistent with the No Country Left Behind priorities.

Too often when our sector seeks to make its case to States or development agencies, we speak in different voices. But while ICAO has a goal of two per cent efficiency and our “basket of measures”, and industry has a 1.5 per cent target and its “Four Pillars”, we all have one clear goal in common, and that’s to ensure the sustainability of our sector well into the future.

At the last UN Climate Summit in New York, in 2014, ICAO and ATAG announced a joint action statement. It committed us to proactive and concrete measures in pursuit of our common goals, and represented a very good first step towards improving the harmonization of our messages on climate change. But more can and should be done so that aviation’s cooperative and united qualities can be better communicated and suitably leveraged in other forums – and most especially where development funding is being discussed. Let this be a challenge for all of us in the months ahead.

Ladies and gentlemen, we now find ourselves on a shared journey toward achieving carbon neutral growth from 2020. This is a clear and common objective for ICAO and ATAG. I strongly believe that this will be possible only by continuing to work together, in line with our historic tradition in global civil aviation, and by actively forging and refining our partnerships.

Thank you, and I wish you all a very thought-provoking and productive Summit.