Declaration by the High-level Meeting on International Aviation
and Climate Change (HLM-ENV/09) in October 2009

The High-Level Meeting on International Aviation and Climate Change, convened by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at its Headquarters in Montreal on 7 to 9 October 2009 was attended by Ministers and other high-level officials representing 73 States (responsible for 94% of the global international aviation traffic*) and 26 international organizations:

Whereas the 36th Session of the ICAO Assembly requested the Council to convene a high-level meeting to review the Programme of Action on International Aviation and Climate Change recommended by the Group on International Aviation and Climate Change, taking into account that the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be held in December 2009;


Welcoming the Decision of the ICAO Council to fully accept the Programme of Action on International Aviation and Climate Change, which includes global aspirational goals in the form of fuel efficiency, a basket of measures and the means to measure progress, as an important first step in the work of Member States at ICAO to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international aviation;


Reaffirming ICAO as the lead United Nations agency in matters involving international civil aviation, and emphasizing ICAO‘s commitment to provide continuous leadership in addressing international civil aviation matters related to the environment;


Acknowledging the principles and provisions on common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and with developed countries taking the lead under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol;


Also acknowledging the principles of non-discrimination and equal and fair opportunities to develop international aviation set forth in the Chicago Convention;


Reemphasizing the vital role which international aviation plays in global economic and social development and the need to ensure that international aviation continues to develop in a sustainable manner;


Acknowledging that international aviation emissions, currently accounting for less than 2 per cent of total global CO2 emissions, are projected to grow as a result of the continued development of the sector;


Recognizing that the international aviation sector must play its part to confront the global challenge of climate change, including by contributing to the reduction of global GHG emissions;


Noting the scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2°C;


Noting the continuous efforts of the sector to minimise aviation‘s impact on climate change and the improvement in fuel efficiency achieved over the last 40 years, resulting in aircraft today that are 70 per cent more fuel efficient per passenger kilometre;


Affirming that addressing GHG emissions from international aviation requires the active engagement and co-operation of States and the industry, and noting the collective commitments announced by ACI, CANSO, IATA and ICCAIA on behalf of the international air transport industry to continuously improve CO2 efficiency by an average of 1.5 per cent per annum from 2009 until 2020, to achieve carbon neutral growth from 2020 and reducing its carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 compared to 2005 levels;


Recognizing the different circumstances among States in their capacity to respond to the challenges associated with climate change and the need to provide necessary support, in particular to developing countries and States having particular needs;


Recognizing that the aspirational goal of 2 per cent annual fuel efficiency improvement is unlikely to deliver the level of reduction necessary to stabilize and then reduce aviation‘s absolute emissions contribution to climate change, and that goals of more ambition will need to be considered to deliver a sustainable path for aviation;


Declares that:

  1. The HLM endorses the ICAO Programme of Action on International Aviation and Climate Change as accepted by the ICAO Council;
  2. In pursuing the implementation of the ICAO Programme of Action on International Aviation and Climate Change, States and relevant organizations will work through ICAO to achieve a global annual average fuel efficiency improvement of 2 per cent over the medium term until 2020 and an aspirational global fuel efficiency improvement rate of 2 per cent per annum in the long term from 2021 to 2050, calculated on the basis of volume of fuel used per revenue tonne kilometre performed;
  3. Taking into account the relevant outcomes of the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and recognizing that this declaration shall not prejudge the outcome of those negotiations, ICAO and its Member States, with relevant organizations will also keep working together in undertaking further work on medium and long-term goals, including exploring the feasibility of goals of more ambition including carbon-neutral growth and emissions reductions, taking into account the collective commitments announced by ACI, CANSO, IATA and ICCAIA on behalf of the international air transport industry, the special circumstances and respective capabilities of developing countries and the sustainable growth of the international aviation industry, for consideration by the 37th Session of the ICAO Assembly;
  4. Such fuel efficiency improvements or other aspirational emission reduction goals would not attribute specific obligations to individual States. The different circumstances, respective capabilities and contribution of developing and developed States to the concentration of aviation GHG emissions in the atmosphere will determine how each State may contribute to achieving the global aspirational goals;
  5. ICAO will establish a process to develop a framework for market based measures in international aviation, taking into account the conclusions of the High-level Meeting and outcome of the UNFCCC COP 15 and bearing in mind relevant ICAO Assembly resolutions and the appendices with a view to complete this process expeditiously;
  6. ICAO will regularly report CO2 emissions from international aviation to the UNFCCC, as part of its contribution to assessing progress made in the implementation actions in the sector based on information approved by its Member States;
  7. States are encouraged to submit their action plans, outlining their respective policies and actions, and annual reporting on international aviation CO2 emissions to ICAO;
  8. ICAO and its Member States will strongly encourage wider discussions on the development of alternative fuel technologies and the promotion of the use of sustainable alternative fuels, including biofuels, in aviation in accordance with national circumstances.

Recommendations by the High-level Meeting on International Aviation and
Climate Change (HLM-ENV/09) in October 2009


In addition to the recommendations from the GIACC as accepted by the Council, the High-level Meeting on International Aviation and Climate Change recommended, in order to progress the work leading to the upcoming 37th Session of the ICAO Assembly in 2010 and beyond, that the ICAO Council:

    1. Work expeditiously together with the industry to foster the development and implementation of more energy efficient aircraft technologies and sustainable alternative fuels for aviation;
    2. Seek to develop a global CO2 Standard for new aircraft types consistent with CAEP recommendations;
    3. Continue to maintain and update knowledge of the interdependency between noise and emissions in the development and implementation of measures to address GHG emissions from international aviation;
    4. Continue to work with relevant organizations on the scientific understanding and on measures to limit the non-CO2 climate impacts of aviation;
    5. Intensify its efforts in further development of Standards and Recommended Practices for technological and operational measures to reduce international aviation emissions, with the support and expertise from technical panels and committees of ICAO, in consultation with other relevant organizations, in particular on the development of new guidance on operational measures to reduce international aviation emissions;
    6. Commit, in cooperation with the industry, to facilitate the implementation of operational changes and the improvement of air traffic management and airport systems aiming to reduce emissions from international aviation sector;
    7. Further elaborate on measures to assist developing States as well as to facilitate access to financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building including possible application of flexible mechanisms under UNFCCC, such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), to international aviation;
    8. Encourage States and international organizations to actively participate in the Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels in Rio de Janeiro in November 2009 (CAAF2009) to share their efforts and strategies to promote such measures, and bring its results to COP15;
    9. Identify appropriate standard methodologies and a mechanism to measure/estimate, monitor and verify global GHG emissions from international aviation, and States support the work of ICAO on measuring progress through the reporting of annual data on traffic and fuel consumption;
    10. Request States to continue to support the efforts of ICAO on enhancing the reliability of measuring/estimating global GHG emissions from international aviation;
    11. Consider a de-minimis exception for States which do not have substantial international aviation activity levels, in the submission of action plans and regular reports on aviation CO2 emissions to ICAO;
    12. Consider, with due priority, the allocation of resources for environment-related activities under the next ICAO Regular Programme budget and analyse the possibility of establishing voluntary contributions;
    13. Explore the relevance of the GIACC‘s fuel efficiency metric to international business aviation;
    14. Explore approaches for providing technical and financial assistance in the reporting process to developing countries; and
    15. Invite the international air transport industry to further elaborate the implementation framework and strategies for the collective commitment of the international air transport industry.

* Expressed in Revenue Passenger Kilometre.