ICAO Seeks Emissions Deal By End 2012

December 1, 2011

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The ICAO, the United Nations body that oversees civil aviation, is accelerating its work to address greenhouse emissions from commercial jets, and now hopes to have a global agreement by the end of 2012.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation said that the new target, approved by the body's governing council at a meeting in November, was prompted in part by conflict over the European Union's emissions trading scheme.

"There was a decision to accelerate the process on most of the environment issues and the market-based measures," said spokesman Denis Chagnon. "It's sort of a determination or commitment to move a bit faster."

At the same meeting, the council backed the United States, China and two dozen other nations urging the EU not to include non-EU carriers in its emissions trading scheme.

ICAO has been studying a host of environmental issues, including the possibility of "market-based measures" for climate change, since 2010, and is to formally report back to its general assembly in late 2013.

Chagnon said one option could be a global carbon market for the airline industry. But he stressed that no plan was yet in place and he could not confirm a Bloomberg News report that ICAO wanted a carbon market deal next year.

Under the EU proposal to put a price on pollution, airlines will have to buy permits to help offset emissions from jets operating in, to and from Europe from January 1.

The EU has repeatedly said it would exempt non-EU carriers as long as they are subject to "equivalent measures" to reduce emissions. A carbon market could be considered an equivalent measure, so the creation could eventually resolve the conflict.

The Republican-led US House of Representatives voted in October to ban US airline compliance with the scheme, raising the prospect that flights could be disrupted.

Chagnon said this week's climate talks in Durban, reports that climate change is accelerating and the conflict over the EU scheme were all putting pressure on ICAO to move quickly.