United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Statement by the
Secretary General of the
International Civil Aviation Organization
Dr. Fang Liu
to the thematic discussion session on:
Sustainable transport solutions to the climate crisis

Global Sustainable Transport Conference
(Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, 26 November 2016)

1. Ladies and gentlemen, friends and colleagues, it will be my great pleasure today to review with you the historic achievements realized at ICAO’s 39th Assembly in the area of environmental protection and climate change.

2. To begin though, let us first recognize that international aviation operations presently account for 1.3% of global CO2 emissions.

3. While this by no means qualifies us as a significant emitter, in the air transport sector we take these emissions very seriously, especially given our historic tendency to double our traffic and passenger volumes every 15 years.

4. ICAO and its Member States have thus been pursuing a range of activities to confront and effectively govern our climate change impacts.

5. Modern commercial aircraft are no less than 80% more fuel efficient than the first jet aircraft which entered service in the 1960s – a trend we are quite proud of and which is continuously being improved upon – but the aviation community also recognized that more needed to be done.

6. Even as early as 2010, ICAO and its Member States adopted the ambitious aspirational goals of achieving a minimum 2% fuel efficiency improvement annually, as well as carbon neutral growth by 2020.

7. To achieve these targets, four main categories of measures were identified, including:

- New and innovative aircraft technologies;
- Streamlined operational procedures to reduce aircraft noise and fuel burn;
- The development and wider use of sustainable alternative fuels for jet aircraft;
- And the recently-agreed Global Market-Based Measure (GMBM) which will now complement the progress we’re making in all other areas.

8. Each of these emissions reduction activities has already made important contributions which are helping aviation to surpass its 2% annual emissions reduction target. And each still holds out further potential for the years ahead.

9. At our recently-concluded 39th Assembly, ICAO and its Member States realized two landmark emissions benchmarks there which will greatly aid our future efforts.

10. The first of these was the Assembly’s recognition of the pioneering global CO2 certification Standard for aircraft.

11. This represents nothing less than the very first CO2 emissions Standard for any industry sector, and with it we can now look forward to a much greener generation of aircraft entering service as of 2020.

12. The second, and even more notable development, was the historic and pragmatic consensus we realized in support of a new GMBM for international flight emissions.

13. Known as the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, the ‘CORSIA’ is also another world first for any industry.

14. And while it will only mandatory as of 2027, ICAO has been greatly encouraged that States representing more than 86% of international traffic have already proactively volunteered to fully participate in CORSIA, even from its earliest pilot phase in 2021.

15. While much work and capacity-building remains to be done before this time, the agreement on CORSIA forged through ICAO helps to highlight that there is a clear motivation among world governments to confront their emissions.

16. It also makes clear to us that well-designed emissions-reduction solutions – ones which accommodate States’ varying levels of development and various circumstances – can bring us real and lasting success in our fight against climate change.

17. It also well illustrates the importance to have all stakeholders well-informed and fully-engaged in order to agree on a robust and practical solution.

18. We are definitely living in challenging times today, and Climate change is a unique and global challenge for humanity.

19. It also, however, clearly underscores the importance and necessity of the United Nations’ global governance platform as our best means to effectively address it.

20. It has been my great privilege to present these latest developments to you today, on behalf of ICAO and our entire air transport sector. It is my great hope that all of us will be inspired today toward greater and more sustainable emissions reduction governance in the years ahead.

Thank you.

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