Aviation taxes stay off the agenda at Cancun

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Air transport industry executives believe the recent climate change negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, showed growing recognition that ICAO should be the forum for tackling aviation emissions, though the threat of the sector being targeted as a revenue source still remains.

Although December's United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's meeting in Cancun - a low-key affair compared with the much-hyped and anti-climactic talks of a year ago in Copenhagen - agreed to establish a green climate fund as part of the global deal to curb climate change, the details of how to raise these funds are still to be agreed.

In the run-up to the meeting, 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.

FINANCING THE FUND

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 establishing 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 in 2011.

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 the Air Transport Action Group.

"There is a very clear understanding that ICAO is the right body to deal with this [aviation emissions]," says ATAG executive director Paul Steele.

"We are confident in our industry's ability to meet the challenge we have set ourselves and will continue to push forward to deliver our share of the effort," he adds. But Steele stresses that the pressure to apply extra taxes has not gone away.

The next round of UNFCCC conference of parties - COP17 - will take place in Durban, South Africa, at the end of 2011.