Sustainable Aviation welcomes global scheme to tackle aviation climate emissions

Sustainable Aviation – the coalition of UK airlines, airports, aerospace manufacturers and air traffic service providers, which works to deliver cleaner, quieter, smarter flying – welcomes the historic agreement by governments meeting at the United Nations (UN) to tackle aviation climate emissions.


This successful outcome of the General Assembly at the UN aviation specialised agency ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation), which took place in Montréal on 27 September – 7 October 2016, puts aviation at the forefront of worldwide action to tackle climate change.


The aviation industry is the only sector that has voluntarily agreed to reduce its net carbon emissions with the introduction of a cap on carbon dioxide emissions from 2020 and a 50 per cent cut by 2050.

Sustainable Aviation congratulates the leading role its members and the UK Government have played in the negotiations, helping to secure international agreement to the principles of a scheme and to shape its design.


The new scheme developed by ICAO is a global carbon offsetting mechanism in which airlines will buy emissions units to offset their share of the sector’s growth emissions as a proportion of their total emissions each year. It begins in 2021 and applies to international aviation emissions above the 2020 level.


The scheme offers exciting opportunities for aviation to fund large-scale sustainable carbon reduction projects around the world.


It has been designed by experts from ICAO Member States, the aviation industry and non-governmental organisations to meet strict guiding principles on environmental integrity, cost-efficiency, simplicity, transparency and the avoidance of competitive distortion.


The voluntary first phase from 2021 to 2026 has attracted strong support from the international community with 65 nations declaring their commitment to participate. Over the life of the scheme to 2035, it is expected to cover over 84% of international aviation emissions growth.


Work to prepare for the scheme’s implementation is already underway. Sustainable Aviation members will continue to work with the UK Government and ICAO on the detailed design elements to ensure the environmental integrity of chosen emissions units and develop robust rules for monitoring, reporting and verification.


The carbon offsetting scheme complements the aviation sector’s other work to improve environmental efficiency through investment in more efficient aircraft and engines, the development and commercialisation of sustainable alternative fuels and delivering more efficient airspace and operational practice. Within the UK alone this has seen 20 million tonnes of carbon emissions saved from UK airline flights in the last 10 years, more than 470 new, cleaner and quieter aircraft introduced by UK airlines since 2005 and, since 2008 savings of more than one million tonnes of carbon emissions through 400 procedural airspace changes and more efficient air traffic control.


Sustainable Aviation will review the impact of this new scheme on its forecasts published in the Sustainable Aviation Carbon Roadmap. The Roadmap shows that UK aviation can decouple growth in travel from growth in emissions to keep absolute emissions at around 2005 levels by 2050.


This ICAO scheme will allow the UK industry to go further, meeting the industry goal of halving net emissions in 2050 compared to 2005 levels. Sustainable Aviation fully welcomes this landmark agreement as a major milestone, putting the industry firmly on course to meet its ambitious climate goals.


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Sustainable Aviation Carbon Roadmap:


Air Transport Action group (ATAG) information on 39th ICAO Assembly and details of the Carbon Offsetting Scheme:


ICAO news releases:




Sustainable Aviation is a long term strategy which sets out the collective approach of UK aviation to tackling the challenge of ensuring a sustainable future for our industry. Launched in 2005, it is a world first bringing together major UK airlines, airports, manufacturers and air navigation service providers.


The industry is committed to delivering a sustainable future, and Sustainable Aviation is critical to delivering that. We are focused on finding collaborative ways of improving our environmental performance and creating a balanced debate to ensure sustainable growth of our industry, which is crucial to the health of the UK’s island trading economy. We continue to promote the principles of our strategy both within the UK and internationally.


Contact details:


For further information please contact the following or email info@sustainableaviation.local.


Neal Weston, Head of Policy & Communications, British Air Transport Association – 0207 808 7111



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