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Statement from U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx on Historic Agreement to Combat Carbon Emissions in Aviation

Last week, I spoke at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly and said that we must agree on a comprehensive approach to achieving carbon-neutral growth.  I was proud to represent the United States as an early adopter of the global market-based measure (GMBM) addressing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as part of ICAO’s broader basket of measures to enable carbon neutral growth from 2020, and I strongly urged all nations to support this comprehensive plan.  For more than four years, the U.S. Department of Transportation, along with other U.S. government agencies, has worked closely with partners worldwide to address these and other critical environmental issues.  Last month, I also joined with the G7 Transportation Ministers in issuing a strong statement in support of the adoption of the GMBM.

Today, the United States and 190 other countries formalized the adoption of the first-ever GMBM for international aviation.  Starting in 2021, aircraft operators will offset the growth of CO2 emissions from international aviation in order to help achieve carbon-neutral growth, through the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).  This historic agreement was reached at the 39th General Assembly of the ICAO.

The measure is structured in a way that is both pragmatic and has a high-level of emissions reduction, including an approach to phase-in countries to encourage the broadest participation possible.  Moreover, it provides flexibility to countries that have limited capacity or that need technical assistance to participate. 

The Department welcomes the approval of this cost-effective approach, as it will help the industry grow in a sustainable way while avoiding the threat of a patchwork of overlapping market measures by different regions of the world.

Today’s announcement follows the ICAO Council’s endorsement earlier this year of the first-ever global CO2 standards for commercial aircraft.  These items are part of a comprehensive approach by the U.S. and other ICAO countries to reduce carbon emissions from aviation through technology development, air traffic improvements, sustainable alternative fuels, and this market mechanism while encouraging sustainable growth.

The international aviation sector is forecasted to grow at around five percent each year beyond 2020, translating into approximately 3.3 billion tons of CO2 emissions for the period from 2020 to 2035.  Implementing this measure with commitments from the more than 65 States to date, would cover around 85 percent of international aviation activity.  This percentage is expected to increase as more States announce their early participation.

This agreement, which has the support of both industry and environmental organizations, is an important signal that the international aviation community is prepared to do its part to address climate change.

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Thursday, October 6, 2016
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