UN climate chief urges international aviation to come up with concrete proposals to tackle climate change
Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC
Thu 25 June 2008 – Speaking to delegates attending an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) workshop on carbon markets in Montreal, Yvo de Boer, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), challenged the aviation sector to cooperate in reaching a new climate change deal by the time of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen at the end of next year.
“All of the current trends in transport fly in the face of what science tells us is needed,” he said via a satellite link. “From all sectors, it is the transport sector whose emissions increased the most with nearly 25% between 1990 and 2004. Aviation accounts for the biggest part of this increase.
“Looking at international aviation in particular, greenhouse gas emissions from fuel used in this transport sector have grown by more than 50% from 1990 onwards. Bearing in mind the growth in international trade and travel, it is projected that this increase will continue. As you all know, the emissions from international transport, including international aviation, to date do not fall under the Kyoto Protocol. As we move forward towards a new climate change deal in Copenhagen, this gap is becoming more and more obvious.”
He said the issue was currently being discussed as part of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. “So my question to you is this: what is the international aviation sector going to contribute to a Copenhagen deal? And more specifically: to what extent do you think this is possible without a cap-and-trade approach?”
The carbon market, said de Boer, represented a “very promising option” to cut back aviation emissions in a cost-efficient way. “If it works for other sectors, I’m convinced it could do the same for you,” he told the delegates.
“I do not want to make it sound too simplistic. I know there are a number of specific, major challenges for an international sector like yours. For example, how do you make sure all countries are engaged? How can developing countries be helped to also lower their emissions? And how do you ensure that economic growth imperatives are respected?
“Do take up this challenge. The world cannot solve this problem without the international aviation sector. Especially now, in the run-up to a new climate change deal in Copenhagen, it is crucial that discussions under ICAO and those under UNFCCC are closely linked. Close cooperation between our two processes has never been so important as now.
“This is the time for you to come forward and show the world what the international aviation sector is ready to do in the global fight against climate change. This is the time to think hard and come up with concrete proposals, for example on how the carbon market can work for you. Bali has presented us with a unique opportunity to open up a new chapter in fighting climate change. It is a daunting task. We will have to pull out all the stops to get a Copenhagen deal in such a short period of time.”
Also speaking at the workshop, Dr Taïeb Chérif, ICAO’s Secretary General, announced that the Group on International Aviation and Climate Change (GIACC), which was formed earlier this year “to recommend an aggressive ICAO Programme of Action to address climate change”, would be presenting proposals “at a high-level meeting” before the end of 2009 on “strategies and measures that States can use to achieve emissions reductions, as well as fuel efficiency goals and means of measuring progress”.
His only policy comment on the subject of carbon markets and emissions trading was to say that last September’s ICAO Assembly had “reached consensus on the value of market-based mechanisms, including emissions trading systems, as part of possible solutions to address aviation emissions”.
Copies of Mr de Boer’s and Dr Chérif’s speeches can be found, along with presentations from other speakers, on the ICAO website