WWF: ICAO Forgoes Immediate Emissions Reductions for Promise of a Future Global Plan

Aviation is the most emission-intensive form of transport on the planet © Chris Martin Bahr / WWF-Canon

MONTREAL (October 3, 2013) – Delegates to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) today promised to start work on developing a global, market based measure (MBM) to reduce aviation emissions beginning in 2020, but in doing so missed the opportunity to start reducing emissions immediately and contribute to closing the ambition gap before 2020.

"The science is clearer than ever - 2020 is too late," says Samantha Smith, WWF leader of the Global Climate & Energy Initiative. "Right after the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) release, this was the first chance for governments in ICAO to take decisive action, and they failed."

The world has waited 16 years for ICAO to demonstrate its serious commitment to reducing aviation emissions,says Jean Leston, Transport Policy Officer of WWF-UK. "What we got today seems a very small return for that effort. We expect a lot more ambition and commitment from ICAO over the next three years if a global, market-based mechanism is ever going to materialize."

ICAO delegates and the airline industry will be crowing about the significant progress they have made this week, the reality is that today's decision does nothing to reduce emissions in the short term. By essentially restricting the EU's Emissions Trading System for aviation to its own carriers and airspace, ICAO has handicapped the world's leading legislation to put a price on aviation pollution and once again allowed skyrocketing emissions to continue climbing.

Today's decision commits delegates only to the possibility of an MBM agreement in by 2016. "There is no guarantee. At a time when the world's leading climate scientists are telling us that that climate change is real and is happening faster than expected, international leaders must capitalize on every immediate opportunity to ratchet down emissions," says Leston.

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