Aviation escapes proposed new tax as UN climate talks end

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Climate change negotiations in Cancun, Mexico have concluded without the imposition of a proposed levy on the aviation industry, but with a greater recognition of ICAO's role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the sector.

In the run-up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) 16th conference of parties (COP16), which concluded late last week, there were expectations that a high-level advisory group on climate change financing would recommend an aviation tax to fund initiatives to help developing countries adapt to the effects of climate change.

The proposed target was to find a way of raising $100 billion a year by 2020, $3 billion of which would come from aviation through a tax or a global emissions trading scheme. However, while COP16 agreed to establish a Green Climate Fund, aviation was not specifically mentioned as a potential source of funds.

Further discussions on financing sources for this fund are expected to take place in 2011.

No reference to aviation was made in the final text presented at the conclusion of the Cancun talks, which the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) says "means that the next round of discussions in Bonn will have to go back to the beginning and start all over again".

However, the recent ICAO global framework to reduce greenhouse gases from aviation was "well recognised" during the talks, and ICAO "is now firmly recognised as the forum within which aviation emissions should be addressed and managed", says ATAG.

"Given the slow pace of progress made in COP16 it is unfortunate that the very real work of reducing emissions is being overtaken by embroiled political process," says ATAG executive director Paul Steele.

"We, however, are confident in our industry's ability to meet the challenge we have set for ourselves and will continue to push forward to deliver our share of the effort."

The next round of UNFCCC conference of parties - COP17 - will take place in Durban, South Africa at the end of next year.