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Historic moment as ICAO member states agree on long-term goal to cut aviation emissions

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At the 40th International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly, airlines have welcomed support for the aviation industry’s sustainability programmes.

The issue of the environment was top of the agenda during the week-long meeting of governments and industry stakeholders in Montreal, Canada. During the event, ICAO member states agreed to address the possibility of a long-term goal for governments to reduce carbon emissions from aviation.

Discussions between states resulted in two key outcomes, which the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said will help airlines “take the next step” in cutting carbon emissions even further.

At the next assembly, the ICAO Council will report back on options for the adoption of a long-term goal for reducing carbon emissions from international aviation. Moreover, the assembly passed a resolution that reaffirmed support for the implementation of CORSIA, the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation.

This marks the first time in history that ICAO’s 193 member states have agreed to look at a long-term goal for governments to cut emission from air travel. The move has been welcomed by IATA and its member airlines, who are aiming to cut total emissions to 50% of 2005 levels by 2050.

“Sustainability is critical to earning aviation’s license to grow and spread its many economic and social benefits,” said Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO at IATA. “Decarbonising the sector is a major challenge. Flying today is 17.3% more fuel efficient than a decade ago. From 2020—with the help of CORSIA—the sector’s growth will be carbon neutral.

“The strong support of governments for developing a UN backed long-term goal for reducing emissions would support us in those efforts and take us to the next step. National policy measures aligned to a global long-term emissions reduction goal will enable the industry to work even more effectively on crucial opportunities like commercialising sustainable aviation fuels and more efficient air traffic management.”

Other decisions made at this year’s assembly included a request for the ICAO Council to help develop a disability-inclusive air transport system; a call for more states to ratify the 2014 Montreal Protocol to deal with disruptive passengers; and an endorsement of IATA’s One ID project, which aims to streamline the passenger journey with a document-free process based on identity management and biometric recognition.