global challenge of climate change
change is the biggest single issue that we face. Aviation contributes
to global warming through the emission of greenhouse gases. As well
as carbon dioxide these include oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and water vapour
which can form condensation trails (contrails) and cirrus clouds.
Government is committed to responding effectively to the threats and
challenges that climate change poses. We must act now to mitigate the
environmental impacts that it will cause and to prepare for future sustainable
Aviation and Kyoto - the international context. Agreement
of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 was an important landmark in global efforts
to tackle the overall impact of climate change. The Protocol set out
targets for a global reduction in greenhouse gases based on 1990 emission
levels and describes what contribution different countries should make
Government is being a consistently strong advocate and supporter of
the Kyoto agreement. However, specific Kyoto targets are based on a
series of national commitments by certain countries to reduce emissions
of greenhouse gases. Although domestic aviation emissions are included
within these targets, international aviation emissions are not. This
was because of the perceived difficulty in allocating emissions from
international flights on a national basis.
work on the environmental impact of international civil aviation is
managed through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO),
a United Nations (UN) body with 189 member countries. ICAO has been
in place since the birth of international civil aviation at the end
of the Second World War, and its role is set out in the 1944 Chicago
Convention, the international treaty that governs civil aviation. Over
the years, ICAO has delivered a firm foundation for the development
of the aviation industry by setting the basis for the operation of international
air services, safety and technical standards, as well as facilitating
work in other important areas, such as aviation security.
despite a number of revisions, the Chicago Convention is in many ways
now very out of date. This is particularly true in relation to the environment.
ICAO has been considering since 1998 how best to respond to the issue
of aviation emissions. While some constructive action has been agreed,
overall progress has been too slow. Although the last ICAO Assembly
in 2004 agreed a resolution on environmental policy, many countries
still see aviation only as a very minor part of the global problem of
climate change and are concerned about the potential impact on the industry
of measures such as emissions trading.
Convention itself also stands as a barrier to action. While we have
obtained formal recognition for our view that provisions such as fuel
tax exemptions are anomalous, it has not yet been possible to reach
consensus within ICAO with regard to specific economic instruments.
We have, however, been working within ICAO's Committee on Aviation and
Environment Protection to develop guidance on emissions trading schemes.
If agreed, this would be published in 2007.
Aviation industry and regulator will gradual implement the International
Civil Aviation Organization's balance approach to noise and
emission management, which aims to alleviate community exposure
in the most cost-effective way.