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07 October 2016

Deal to clamp down on aviation emissions is another step forward for global action on climate change

Countries at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) - the UN's civil aviation body - have formally adopted an agreement to control emissions from international aviation, putting the sector on a path toward reducing its emissions. This deal is the world's first cap on net carbon emissions of an entire global industry sector.

Lou Leonard, Interim Deputy Leader for WWF's Global Climate and Energy Practice said:

Three hundred days after the gavel fell in Paris, countries are tackling a major loophole in that deal: international aviation emissions. But we are far from the finish line in curbing carbon pollution from international aviation. This is the starting block. It's a foundation we must build on over time.

"This deal was the world's first opportunity to test whether the new Paris Agreement would change the way we do business and rally the world toward its new goals. Yet just hours after celebrating the Paris Agreement's early entry into force, countries at ICAO are sending mixed signals about their ambition to reduce emissions by weakening the link between the aviation mechanism and the temperature goals set in Paris."

Emma Pinchbeck, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF-UK said:

"This is another historic moment for action on climate change. The UK has been a leader in these talks so it would be disappointing to see Ministers immediately greenlight airport expansion at home. Our Government must walk the talk on climate change. Building new runways would send UK aviation emissions soaring above safe limits, so first we need a credible UK plan to deal with those emissions."

Countries negotiating the Paris Agreement held off on addressing emissions from international aviation, which fall outside of countries' domestic emissions targets, so the responsibility falls on ICAO to equitably deliver an agreement to tackle the rapidly-growing emissions from this sector. Despite this, during the negotiation process, countries in ICAO cut out key language linking the aviation mechanism to long-term temperature goals set in Paris.

The agreement as it stands falls short of what is needed to achieve ICAO's own goal of carbon neutral growth by 2020, let alone the ambition required by the Paris Agreement.

With current participation by governments and their airlines, more than three quarters of international aviation's expected emissions growth (~2.5 billion cumulative tons of CO2 emissions) between 2021 and 2035 would be addressed. At least 64 countries have stepped up and opted to join this agreement.

In the final hours of the before adoption of this deal, countries demonstrated that they understand the importance of high-quality carbon offsets.

Lou Leonard said:

"Countries are signaling in this deal an understanding that not all carbon credits are created equal, and that this system needs to be managed to ensure that carbon offsets are not double counted, as called for in the Paris Agreement. Cutting corners on critical pieces like alternative fuel and offset quality criteria would undermine the entire deal."

For further information, please contact:

Mandy Jean Woods / @climateWWF / +27 72 393 0027

About WWF - WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. The Climate and Energy Practice is WWF's global programme addressing climate change, promoting renewable and sustainable energy, scaling up green finance, adaptation, engaging the private sector and working nationally and internationally on implementing low carbon, climate resilient development.


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