Volume 36 (2011)

Volume 36 (2011) / Issue 3

Steven Truxal, 'The ICAO Assembly Resolutions on International Aviation and Climate Change: An Historic Agreement, a Breakthrough Deal and the Cancun Effect' (2011) 36 Air and Space Law, Issue 3, pp. 217–242


In what the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) heralds as a 'historic agreement' and the European Union (EU) calls a 'breakthrough deal', the recent ICAO Assembly Resolutions A37-18 and 19 mark the end of the Assembly Resolution A36-22 'mutual agreement' stalemate on emissions trading, which represents a significant achievement with respect to aviation and climate change. Although Assembly Resolutions A37-18 and 19 are non-binding, the as yet 'aspirational' goals that they set out demonstrate the collective will of the civil aviation industry and ICAO Member States to work together towards the common objective of limiting and reducing the global impact of aviation noise and emissions.

The texts of Assembly Resolutions A37-18 and 19 prompt closer analysis vis-à-vis questions of whether ICAO is (still) the appropriate forum for addressing international aviation emissions and on the legitimacy of its manifesto for continuous leadership. ICAO's general approval for use of market-based mechanisms to establish a viable global framework mechanism for aviation emissions is also noteworthy, particularly in the context of the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), the position of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (the Chicago Convention), and recent legal challenge against inclusion of aviation in the scheme.

This article suggests that on emergence from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)'s 16th Conference of the Parties (COP-16) in Cancun in December 2010, the ICAO Member States and the aviation sector should feel proud that the spirit of cooperation and sense of success they promoted in the wake of the recent ICAO Assembly Resolutions may have contributed to the most recent progress in the global campaign against climate change: the Cancun Agreements. Thus, this article argues it is foreseeable that the latest progress under the UNFCCC process will have a reverse demonstrative effect on future ICAO dialogue and resolution.

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ISSN: 0927-3379
ID: AILA2011024