ICAO endorses emissions deal
MONTREAL - A landmark agreement aimed at getting the global airline sector to cut carbon emissions by 2020 has been approved by the general assembly of the United Nations group that oversees civil aviation.
Delegates from 184 member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) ratified the agreement on Friday.
The agreement, a framework for which details have yet to be worked out, authorizes the agency to develop a global mechanism (MBM) over the next three years for ratification at the next general assembly in 2016 for implementation four years later.
Among other things, it may lead to taxing airlines for their greenhouse gas emissions.
"This MBM agreement is a historic milestone for air transport and for the role of multilateralism in addressing global climate challenges," said ICAO Council President Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez.
"Once again, our states have shown that significant boundaries can be surpassed when we agree to recognize and accommodate our varying circumstances while progressing together toward common goals."
The recommendation excludes a European Union proposal allowing it to apply its own cap-and-trade emissions scheme to foreign airlines until the global program takes effect.
The EU must now decide whether it will accept or reject the plan. It has suspended legislation that would allow it to apply its own Emissions Trading Scheme to intercontinental flights, which some fear could lead to a trade war with the rest of the world.
Unless rescinded, EU regulations take effect next April and would require airlines using EU airports to pay an emissions charge.
Supporters of the ICAO agreement called it a landmark decision for the global body but critics, including environmentalists, say countries should be allowed, in the interim, to apply their own systems to limit emissions.
Global aviation contributes less than two per cent of all carbon emissions, but ICAO wants a plan in place to contain greenhouse emissions as the industry continues to grow, especially in the developing world.
The agreement culminates ICAO's two-week general assembly meeting.