ICAO Narrows Emissions Options

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Published: June 30, 2012

The ICAO has narrowed its focus to three broad options to address greenhouse gas emissions, eliminating the baseline and credit system, a spokeswoman said.

ICAO’s governing council, meeting in Montreal this week, agreed to rule out a baseline and credit trading scheme, where increases or decreases from an initial emissions baseline could be traded, spokeswoman Stephane Dubois said.

In the working paper, a panel of experts said the baseline and credit system should be discarded only because it would be nearly identical to another option still being considered, global carbon offsetting. The other remaining options are: offsetting with a revenue-generating mechanism, and cap and trade emissions trading.

Stiff resistance from the United States, China and other nations over the European Union’s emissions trading scheme has the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) under pressure to devise a global alternative.

The paper did not recommend whether participants in the scheme should be states or airlines, or how the rules should be enforced.

Sanjeev Kumar, senior associate of environmental group E3G, was disappointed by ICAO’s progress.

“This just highlights the leadership the EU has taken on the issue. ICAO does not look like a forum capable of delivering,” he said.

ICAO Secretary General Raymond Benjamin said earlier this month that he expected the council to have a draft plan by March 2013, rather than the end of 2012 as had been previously thought.

Benjamin and others at ICAO have emphasised the difficulty of crafting a viable scheme. Any global system must approved by ICAO’s 191 members at its autumn 2013 assembly. The full assembly meets only once every three years.

Under the EU’s current system, airlines must buy permits for greenhouse gas emissions for planes operating in, to and from Europe. Opponents say that violates non-EU states’ sovereignty, and that ICAO is the right place to come up with an emission-reduction plan.

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