For the past two weeks the representatives of all the 193 States that are members of ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, have been reunited at the ICAO Headquarter in Montreal, Canada for the 40th General Assembly. The gathering, which takes place every three years, provides the opportunity to have all member nations in the same venue and represent the occasion to discuss all the hot topics in civil aviation as well as deliberate on proposals that are intended to involve the entire aviation community.
The opening of the event took place on September 24 in presence of the Premier of Quebec Francois Legault, the Canadian Deputy Minister for Transport Canada Michael Keenan and the Mayor of Montreal Valerie Plante, while a group of almost 100 people was protesting outside the building requesting for Taiwan to be included among the Member States of ICAO.
For the occasion the protesters had also purchased some billboards in the nearby Square Victoria advocating how the involvement of Taiwan in ICAO would be beneficial in supporting the “No Country Left Behind” initiative, through which ICAO “is working to raise global awareness on the importance of the effective implementation of ICAO standards and recommended practices (SARPs), policies, plans and programs.”
The nine days of the Assembly were cut short to eight, since all sessions were canceled on Friday, Sept.27 due to the Climate Change rally that attracted over 500,000 people, including Swedish climate change advocate Greta Thunberg, and paralyzed the downtown area of Montreal for most of the day.
In announcing the cancelation of the day, ICAO issued a statement of support for the rally, stating “it’s important to recognize that everyone has the right and responsibility to reduce their personal carbon footprint. International flights presently account for 1.3% of annual greenhouse gas emissions produced through human activities. Although aircraft today are 80% more fuel-efficient, and fuel consumption per passenger is comparable to a mid-size vehicle, more action and faster innovation are now required to address aviation’s near- and long-term impacts.”
During the almost two weeks of meetings, workshops and seminars, all areas of work pertaining to ICAO’s remit were covered, including the CORSIA program (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation), which was the main outcome of the 39th ICAO General Assembly in 2016. This voluntary scheme, that will become mandatory for Member States as of 2027, is the first worldwide market-based carbon offsetting scheme put in place by any industry and has already started on 1 January 2019 with a pilot phase consisting of monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon emissions on behalf of the operators.
The initiative was launched to put in place market -based measures in order to prevent legislative interventions on behalf of the States that were, and still are, threatening to introduce environmental taxes that can be detrimental to the development of civil aviation. CORSIA is intended to help States achieve the objectives of carbon-neutral growth as of 2020 and a reduction of 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions as of 2050.
During the Assembly ICAO also launched the second edition of the Aviation Benefits Report, a joint effort of ICAO, the Airports Council International (ACI), the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations (ICCAIA) to promote and safeguard the socio-economic benefits of air transport.
According to the report, in 2018, airlines worldwide carried around 4.3 billion passengers annually with 8.3 trillion revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs). Every day, more than 100,000 flights transport almost 12 million passengers and around $18 billion worth of goods. The total economic impact (direct, indirect, induced and tourism-connected) of the global aviation industry reached $2.7 trillion, some 3.6 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016, generating 10.2 million direct jobs and sustaining a total of 65.5 million jobs globally.
The Assembly also elected the State members of the ICAO Council, the 36-member governing body of the organization that will be in charge for the next three years and will be renewed at the 41st General Assembly in 2022. Twelve states will be new members of the Council, including Netherlands and Finland that have been elected as “States making the largest contribution to the provision of facilities for international civil aviation,” while the remaining 24 States have been confirmed from the previous term.
The next General Assembly will take place in Montreal, Canada in September 2022.
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