Climate change


In 2008, leaders from across the industry gathered at ATAG’s Aviation & Environment Summit to deliver a strategic vision for aviation’s sustainable development, signing the Commitment to Action on Climate Change.

This unprecedented commitment was the first stage in a process guided by ATAG, which saw aviation become the first global transport industry to have a long-term plan to tackle its climate change impact. This commitment by the industry has placed aviation a step ahead of many other industries and provided the impetus towards the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) historic decision to introduce a regulatory framework to reduce aviation’s emissions in 2016. As part of this commitment, the ATAG Board developed a set of environmental goals for the short, medium and long-term. These goals were supported and reiterated by the IATA Board and the association’s Annual General Meeting. They included:

  • improving fuel efficiency by an average of 1.5% per year from 2009 to 2020;
  • stabilising emissions from 2020 with carbon-neutral growth;
  • an aspirational goal to reduce net emissions from aviation by 50% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.

ATAG used the goals to develop a global industry position. This position was then introduced to governments at the ICAO High Level Meeting on Climate Change in 2009 and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) climate talks in Copenhagen that year, as well as at the 2010 ICAO Assembly where they formed the centrepoint of discussions.

The industry position paper recognised the need to address the global challenge of climate change and encouraged governments to ensure that emissions from aviation are addressed in any post-Kyoto framework through a global sectoral approach guided by targets and principles. This position paper had a strong, forward-looking and united vision for aviation and called for aviation to be treated globally as a separate sector.

ATAG has coordinated and led aviation representation at the global climate negotiations, taking place under the auspices of the UNFCCC. Taking such a proactive stance in these negotiations since COP15 in Copenhagen has ensured that aviation is now seen as part of the solution, rather than simply as an industry to be taxed. ATAG and industry representatives at the negotiations are now actively sought as experts whose knowledge can be tapped.

ATAG also coordinated the industry position ahead of the 38th ICAO Assembly in September 2013 and the 39th ICAO Assembly in September 2016.

Since the announcement of the goals, aviation has made outstanding progress. The short-term fuel efficiency goal is already being more than met and, in October 2016, the ICAO Assembly agreed on the implementation of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, the economic mechanism by which the second goal of carbon-neutral growth will be enabled.