Commending Civil Aviation Proposal, Secretary-General Says ‘Eyes’ of World on Airlines to Significantly Reduce Emissions

SG/SM/17536-SAG/478
12 February 2016

Commending Civil Aviation Proposal, Secretary-General Says ‘Eyes’ of World on Airlines to Significantly Reduce Emissions

Following are UN Secretary‑General Ban Ki‑moon’s remarks to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council, in Montreal today:

It is a pleasure to be back at the International Civil Aviation Organization.  I have very happy memories of joining you here in Montreal in 2004, when I attended the thirty-fifth ICAO Assembly as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea.

ICAO has always had a special place in the international community, linking us all and enabling us to travel the world safely and with confidence.  ICAO is now addressing some of the most pressing issues on the global agenda.

In the past year alone, your response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa helped to prevent the spread of the disease, while keeping vital transport links open across the region.

You supported the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines MH17.  And your Traveller Identity Programmes are helping to modernize the global travel document regime, which is a vital tool in combating terrorism.

Today, however, I would like to focus on your role in implementing the two landmark achievements of 2015:  the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.  These are victories for the world’s people and triumphs for multilateralism.

Now we must begin the task of translating them into tangible improvements to the lives of the people we serve.  The ICAO has a vital contribution to make.  I commend the strong links between the ICAO’s five Strategic Objectives and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

ICAO scholarships for women and girls are helping to achieve gender equality in the aviation industry.  Your campaign, No Country Left Behind, is helping to reduce global inequality by ensuring that all countries have access to safe, reliable and environmentally friendly air transport.

You are contributing to SDG 3 on healthy lives and well-being by working with the World Health Organization (WHO) on traveller screening and movement of vaccines.  If we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, it is vital that every region and sector harnesses its efforts in exactly this way.

When it comes to climate change, your role is even more crucial.  If global airlines were a country, they would be the seventh largest creator of emissions in the world.  And emissions from aviation are growing rapidly, with the number of flights worldwide expected to double in the next 15 years.

The eyes of the world are on airlines, and on the ICAO, to drive substantial, concrete progress on reducing emissions.  That is why I am very pleased that the ICAO this week proposed the first-ever limits on emissions from the aircraft industry.

After years of negotiations, these proposed rules will be the first time Governments have set limits on carbon emissions for the aviation sector.  The new rules would limit carbon emissions and strengthen the efficiency of all new commercial and business airliners after 2028.  They build on the strong momentum coming from Paris.  I urge all ICAO members to endorse them as soon as possible.

I am confident that later this year, Governments will go even further and finalize a new ICAO agreement on a market-based approach to ensure carbon-neutral growth in the global aviation industry after 2020.

The air transport sector has a long history of accomplishment on fuel efficiency.  A flight taken today will produce on average only half the carbon dioxide of a similar journey taken in 1990.  But, the world expects and needs more from the aviation industry.  I urge you to push for progress on all fronts.

We need more sustainable energy alternatives to fossil fuels.  Airlines must increase their use of energy-efficient technology.  Airport buildings and transport infrastructure all over the world must be sustainable and climate-friendly.  Cohesive international action will be key to achieving the SDGs and limiting climate change.

The ICAO is showing the way, and I wish you every success in the future.

For information media. Not an official record.