COP17 outcome - an aviation perspective

Negotiators from Parties at COP17 were under significant pressure to deliver on two items: the Green Climate Fund and a clearer picture of the future of the Kyoto Protocol. In the end, after more than 36 hour’s extension to the deliberations, COP17 resulted in a few key decisions after the President of the COP closed the meeting at 05:00 on Sunday morning.

The main outcome papers are:


The aviation industry had a small delegation at the negotiations, representing all parts of the sector and spending time talking to negotiators about the progress the industry is making on reducing emissions and our proposed way forwards for dealing with aviation's emissions through a global sectoral approach under ICAO. Our industry position paper at COP17 is available here.

After a number of days of tough negotiations on aviation, there was still no decision on some of the key aspects of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) and how they relate to aviation and shipping, and the ability for countries negotiation under the UNFCCC to tell negotiators at ICAO what to do.

In the final agreed text on aviation (page 14 of this document), there was a brief placeholder text:

International aviation and maritime transport
78.  Agrees to continue its consideration of issues related to addressing emissions from international aviation and maritime transport;

This reflects the fact that no agreement was reached on how to deal with emissions from aviation and shipping (although this is not the only area where no agreement was reached). ATAG Executive Director Paul Steele remarked on the outcome of COP17 from an aviation point of view:

"While it seems as if significant progress has been made in the broader climate agreement, with an extension to the Kyoto Protocol and a roadmap for a future legally-binding agreement, there was yet again no progress at the UNFCCC on getting a global sectoral approach for aviation emissions. Positively for the industry there is agreement amongst nearly all countries that ICAO is the most appropriate place to deal with aviation emissions. The industry will continue to engage with ICAO to ensure that an ambitious work programme can deliver an outcome on aviation emissions by the next ICAO Assembly in 2013. The tough nature of the negotiations under UNFCCC really places pressure on those same governments to deliver something meaningful at ICAO."

Commenting on the Green Climate Fund:

"COP17 saw a major step forward with the Parties agreeing to operationalise the Green Climate Fund which will help developing nations with mitigation and adaptation to climate change in the future. Aviation and shipping have been cited as potential sources for this fund in the sidelines of the negotiations. Aviation is willing to explore such approaches as part of a global approach to address aviation emissions developed through ICAO. However, any sectoral contributions into the GCF must be fair and proportionate. No sector should be singled out and no sector should be asked to shoulder a disproportionate share of the overall requirements. Any revenues raised from aviation should primarily be used to finance mitigation and adaptation measures throughout the aviation sector particularly to develop sustainable aviation biofuels, including in developing countries."

The European Emissions Trading Scheme’s extension to cover aviation in 2012 was another issue touching aviation at COP17, although not because of the aviation aspect, but because of the issue of sovereignty. India in particular tabled a motion to add the issue to the agenda, focusing on the impact that the EU ETS will have on trade. This proposed agenda item was not taken up, but it was agreed to explore these issues through a workshop at a future session of the UNFCCC.

“We are hearing yet more concern from nations outside the European Union about the impact that the European ETS will have on their economies and their airlines. This has come up in discussions on unilateral actions, response measures and trade barriers. The EU has been rebuffed, from countries around the world that are both developing and developed, large and small, and shows why aviation and shipping must be dealt with at a global level, in line with the industry’s approach. ICAO is the most appropriate place for a global framework to be decided, so we can avoid the distractions of the EU ETS and get on with crafting an effective and solid agreement on how to deal with aviation emissions”

For reference, this Bloomberg BusinessWeek article provides a flavour of the opposition to the ETS by a number of countries: China, Japan clash with EU over aviation CO2 curbs at summit.


Haldane Dodd

Head of Communications

Tel: +41 22 770 2981

Fax: +41 22 770 2686