ICAO has secured agreement from its member states on a roadmap to globally address the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from the aviation industry.
Under the framework, reached during ICAO's 37th Assembly in Montreal, the 190 member states signed up to a global goal of improving fuel efficiency by 2% a year until 2050.
Member states also agreed to collectively strive to achieve carbon neutral growth from 2020, and to put together a global carbon dioxide certification standard for aircraft engines by 2013.
States are required by the agreement to submit to ICAO their action plans for achieving the agreed targets.
The resolution also calls for the development of a global framework for market-based measures, which includes emissions trading schemes.
A feasibility study will be carried out to determine how to create this framework, which will include 15 agreed principles for member states to use when designing and implementing market-based measures. The resulting framework will be reviewed at ICAO's 38th Assembly in 2013.
The ICAO agreement includes mechanisms for transferring technology to developing states and for assisting states to meet their targets. Exemptions from the market-based measures framework will be offered to states with "very low emissions due to their small traffic base".
There had been concerns that developing countries, which represent a large portion of ICAO's member states, would be reluctant to sign up to a global emissions reduction plan. ICAO admits that the "historic" agreement was adopted "with some states expressing reservations".
The resolution will be presented at the next United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) summit in Mexico in December.
"We feel that the Assembly resolution and related decisions are good examples of the spirit of co-operation that can make a substantial contribution to the UNFCCC discussions," says ICAO president Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez.
IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani, who had been leading the charge in pressuring ICAO to deliver a comprehensive set of regulations governing aviation emissions, describes the resolution "a good first step that prepares the way for future achievements".
"No other industry sector has a similar, globally-agreed framework for managing its response to climate change in a manner that takes into consideration the needs of both developed and developing states," says Bisignani.