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Why were internation​al aviation emissions not included in the Paris Agreement at COP 21?

The Convention on International Civil Aviation (so-called "Chicago Convention") and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are two international treaties signed in 1944 and 1992 respectively. The Chicago Convention's 191 Member States and the UNFCCC's 197 Parties to the Convention are basically the same countries, as both treaties have nearly universal membership.

As a specialized UN agency to address all matters related to international civil aviation, including environmental protection, ICAO has been diligently addressing emissions from international aviation.

The ICAO Assembly, comprised of all Member States, requested its Council to ensure that ICAO exercises continuous leadership on all environmental issues relating to international civil aviation, including GHG emissions. This is reflected in paragraph 2. a) of Assembly Resolution A39-2​, which constitutes the consolidated statement of continuing ICAO policies and practices related to environmental protection – climate change. 

Emissions from domestic aviation, as other domestic sources, are addressed under the UNFCCC and calculated as part of the national GHG inventories and are included in national totals (part of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)), while emissions from the so-called "bunker fuels" (i.e. fuel used in international aviation and maritime transport) are reported separately. Also following a decision of the ICAO Assembly, ICAO provides information to the UNFCCC process on a regular basis, on international aviation emissions and on the activities undertaken to address these emissions.

The Paris Agreement is an international agreement linked to the UNFCCC; the legal relationship between the Paris Agreement and the UNFCCC is established by means of the former being an instrument to enhance the implementation of the Convention (i.e. UNFCCC). This legal relationship is similar to the one existing between the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention.

The ICAO agreement on a global MBM scheme for international aviation complements​ the ambition of the 2015 UNFCCC Paris Agreement and constitute the most significant climate agreement since its adoption.

Source: ICAO Back to all F.A.Q.