International civil aviation authorities have pledged to step up their efforts to limit carbon emissions, despite the reticence of China and Russia.
At the end of their triennial assembly, held in Montréal from 24 September to 4 October, the 193 member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO, made a commitment to reflect on a long-term objective to limit the CO2 emissions of international flights.
No firm commitment was made but the delegates pledged to work on a long-term objective (2050) to be discussed at the UN institution’s next triennial assembly, in 2022, according to a source close to the deliberations.
The ICAO delegates also reaffirmed their support for the global Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), a mechanism concluded at their 2016 assembly.
China and Russia, supported by India, demanded a secret vote to validate this motion. They feel the CORSIA system penalises the aviation of developing countries. The global mechanism was supported by 92 votes for, 25 against and 10 abstentions, the source said.
“In these two areas, European voluntarism, and that of France in particular, came up against a coalition led by China and Russia, which served to limit the progress that had been hoped for,” France’s Secretary of State for Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, said in a press release issued on Monday.
The CORSIA system requires airlines to stabilise their emissions from 2020. Starting in 2021, CO2 emissions exceeding 2020 levels will be offset by the acquisition of “reduction credits” on a market that sectors which reduce their emissions will feed into.
Up to the end of 2026, signing on to the mechanism will be done on a voluntary basis.
Parallel to CORSIA, airlines and manufacturers set themselves the goal of halving their emissions by 2050, based on 2005 levels.
The ICAO had suspended its deliberations on 27 September, when hundreds of thousands of protesters led by Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg demonstrated in Montréal against the lack of action on climate change.