Carbon neutral growth tops agenda at ICAO Assembly

Posted: 25 September 2019 | | No comments yet

Climate change will be the pressing issue as ICAO’s 193 member states meet in Montreal from 24 September until 4th October 2019.


As the 40th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) gets underway, the impact of climate change will be top of the agenda.

The triennial Assembly will see ICAO’s 193 member states deliberating on some of the global air transport industry’s most pressing issues, including:

  • The safe integration of drones into airspace management
  • Establishing a globally consistent approach to passengers with disabilities 
  • Implementing an international legal framework to manage the issue of unruly passengers 
  • Implementing modern and convenient measures for passenger identification 
  • Reducing the vulnerability of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) to harmful interference.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has expressed its high expectations for the outcomes of the assembly, particularly as the industry looks to strengthen its efforts to achieve carbon-neutral growth.

The Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) agreement, adopted in October 2016, is key to this. However, IATA’s Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac, feels the agreement is at risk of being undermined by governments “piling on additional carbon pricing instruments.”

“CORSIA was agreed as the single global economic measure to achieve carbon-neutral growth by generating $40 billion in climate funding and offsetting around 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 between 2021 and 2035. Governments need to focus on making that commitment a success,” commented de Juniac. 

IATA, in cooperation with Airports Council International (ACI), the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) and the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations (ICCAIA), coordinated by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) has submitted a working paper that, among other things, calls on governments to:

  • Reaffirm the importance of CORSIA at the ICAO Assembly
  • Participate in CORSIA from the voluntary period before it becomes mandatory in 2027 
  • Reaffirm that CORSIA is “the market-based measure applying to CO2 emissions from international aviation”
  • Stick to the principle that aviation’s international emissions should be accounted for only once, with no duplication.

Safe and efficient integration of UAS (drones) into airspace

As airspace becomes increasingly crowded, the subject of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS, also known as drones), triggers much debate.

Their potential for good cannot be denied – door-to-door cargo shopments, urban air mobility and delivery of emergency supplies and remote medicines in remote areas – to name a few. However, an absolute pre-requisite is their safe and efficient integration into airspace being used for the transportation of passengers. 

IATA, in cooperation with CANSO and the International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations (IFALPA) has submitted a working paper calling on states to work together through ICAO and in cooperation with industry to develop provisions for these airspace new entrants. 

Passengers with disabilities

While the airline industry has already taken steps to improving the air travel experience for those with disabilities, IATA is calling for greater harmonisation and consistency in policies between different countries.

As such, IATA has submitted a working paper asking states to reaffirm that a harmonised approach to the work on accessibility in aviation is a contributor to the achievement of the UN SDGs. It also recommends that ICAO develop a work program on accessibility for passengers with disabilities that includes a review of relevant ICAO standards and recommended practices and policy manuals, with due consideration to the IATA core principles on disabled passengers.

Unruly passengers

With reports of unruly passengers rising steadily, IATA, IFALPA and the International Transport Workers’ Federation, have submitted a working paper urging states to ratify the Montreal Protocol of 2014 (MP14) which modernises international procedures for dealing with unruly passengers.

MP14 addresses gaps in existing international agreements that mean disruptive passengers rarely face prosecution for their misbehaviour.

“Adoption of MP14 will ensure that states have the necessary powers to deal with unruly passengers irrespective of where the aircraft is registered,” said de Juniac.

One ID

The 40th Assembly will also address the issue of passenger identification, with IATA making the case for One ID – which uses identity management and biometric recognition, thus eliminating the need for paper documentation, and enabling passengers to move through various airport processes with a single travel token that is accepted by all stakeholders involved in the passenger’s journey.

“In addition to benefits for travellers, One ID will make it hard for individuals to cross borders under a false identity, and thus help combat human trafficking and other cross-border criminal activities. It will help to reduce queues and crowds in more vulnerable airport landside areas. And it enables the possibility of risk-based assessment and differentiated handling at border and security checkpoints. One ID is the way of the future and we need to accelerate progress,” said de Juniac.

Addressing harmful interference to GNSS

Following a number of reports of harmful interference to the global navigation satellite system (GNSS), IATA, the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA) and IFALPA have submitted a working paper asking the Assembly to take appropriate mitigation measures to reduce the vulnerability of GNSS to interference and to ensure appropriate frequency regulations are in place and maintained to protect allocated GNSS frequencies.

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