Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

28 May, 2007

Asia, Africa Unite On Aviation Emissions

Asian and African countries are making it clear to the aviation industries of the developed countries that they will not accept any disproportionate restrictions on their growth prospects as part of global efforts to curb emissions of greenhouse gases by aircraft.

They made this clear at a “Colloquium on Aviation Emissions” organised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation in Montreal in mid-May to discuss ways of minimising the adverse effects of global civil aviation on the environment.

The key issue on the table, in the words of ICAO Secretary-General Taieb Cherif, was to “find an appropriate balance between the future growth of air transport and the quality of the environment. We must also reconcile differing viewpoints from States under a harmonised global approach.”

He said ICAO is considering integrating international civil aviation emissions into existing carbon trading schemes. Draft guidelines were recently developed and the issue will be reviewed further at the upcoming ICAO Assembly in September.

In addition, ICAO is exploring the use of other flexible mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol, such as clean development mechanisms or CDMs. Consultation with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat on the possibility of using CDMs in aviation-related projects is under way.

President of the ICAO Council Mr. Roberto Kobeh González added, “As individuals, we increasingly want to travel by air. At the same time, we want cleaner air and a reduction of the impact of our lifestyle on the environment. We have a choice. Either we fly less, or we find a way to mitigate the impact of aviation on the environment. The consensus is obviously on continuing to fly and ensuring greater compatibility between aviation and the environment.”

Although most of the discussions focussed on the improving technology to make aircraft engines more fuel efficient as well as improving air-space management to reduce congestion, the Asian and African countries are moving to ensure that the developed countries carry their burden of responsibility in direct proportion to their far larger number of aircraft and air-routes.

Zhou Kaixuan, Deputy Director General of Aircraft, Airworthiness Certification Department, General Administration of Civil Aviation of China said that China has been taking the issue extremely seriously over the years.

“The general policy of the Chinese government is to decrease the emissions together with all countries in the world, but as a developing country take different responsibilities.”

He said the Kyoto Protocol puts the onus more on the industrialised countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. “The developing countries may take different responsibilities in reducing emissions activities compare with industrialised countries.”

He said China was also willing, under the ICAO framework, to establishing more strict regulations, procedures and standards, taking common and differentiated actions to minimise the engine emissions through of the world.

However, he added, “We believe, for any single country or body to take unilateral action may not be helpful for the reducing of emissions. We support a global solution through ICAO to resolve aviation emissions’ issue by improving engine technology instead of establishing quota, which will hinder aviation development of developing countries in particular.”

He also noted that the Chinese the average age of the aircraft fleet is one of youngest in the world. By the end of 2006, CAAC recorded total air-traffic of 30.58 Billion ton kilometers, 160 million passengers, more than 1,000 transport aircraft and 147 certified civil airports. He said that the country’s 1.3 billion population and the booming economy meant that continued growth was a certainty.

He said China has invested heavily in new air-space management systems, new runways and airport terminals and was also ready to commit to a proactive approach by promoting the use of operational measures including slot allocations that can limit or reduce the environmental impact of aircraft engine emissions.

The same view came from Kenton Sim, Kenton Sim Group Specialist Safety, Corporate Office, Airports Company South Africa, who said that African states support ICAO efforts to minimise the environmental impact of aviation emissions.

Nevertheless, he added, “African states expect that emphasis should be on those measures that reduce emissions – without negatively impacting the growth of air transport, particularly in the developing countries.

“African states do not believe that imposition of aviation emission charges is an effective solution to the problem of emission, due to difficulties associated with direct application of those charges, and the potential discrimination against aviation in comparison to other more polluting sectors.

“African states believe that while Emission Trading could be a more effective solution than imposition of charges, inclusion of aviation emissions in Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) should follow ICAO guidelines based on mutual agreement of States and airlines involved.

“We believe that since the Kyoto Protocol does not set emission targets for developing countries, inclusion of airlines from developing countries in the ETS of EU would be incorrect. Although the UNFCCC has requested ICAO to handle issues pertaining to aviation emissions, it should respect the fundamental principle of differential responsibility for developing and developed countries.”

Comments are closed.