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Mobility and Transport
News article13 October 2016Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport

Commission welcomes landmark international agreement to curb aviation emissions


The European Commission welcomes the landmark agreement reached yesterday by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), with the adoption of a Global Market-Based Measure (GMBM) to reduce international aviation emissions. The European Union and its Member States played an instrumental role in brokering this deal, which constitutes the first-ever agreement to reduce CO2 emissions in a global sector. Days after the ratification of the Paris Agreement by the EU, this new multilateral deal shows that the EU is committed to keep global warming well below 2°C. It is also a key deliverable under the European Strategy for low-emission mobility recently adopted by the Commission.

Vice-President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said, "Yesterday's agreement at the ICAO Assembly is a historic milestone. I am happy to see that EU's commitment and perseverance to find a global solution bears fruit. We are mobilising all our policies towards the competitive, circular and low-carbon economy, as promised in the Energy Union Strategy."

EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said, "This unprecedented agreement opens a new chapter in international aviation, where sustainability finally becomes part of the way we fly. Europe has been continuously advocating global and coordinated action to address the growth of aviation emissions which was otherwise set to reach 300% by 2050. Today European solidarity and perseverance has delivered, allowing us to make a decisive step towards the carbon neutral growth of aviation."

The agreement reached in Montreal by the ICAO Assembly foresees the establishment of a Global Market-Based Measure (GMBM), which will oblige airlines to offset the growth of their CO2 emissions post-2020. To do so, airlines will buy "emission units" generated by projects reducing CO2 emissions in other sectors of the economy (e.g. renewable energies). In its first phase (2021-2026), 65 countries will participate on a voluntary basis. All EU Member States will join from the start. Participating countries include 18 out of the top 20 states with the largest international civil aviation activity. In its second phase (2027-2035) participation is mandatory; except for those exempted (countries with small aviation activities). This means around 80% of the emissions above 2020 levels will be offset by the scheme between 2021 and 2035.

The agreement foresees a review every three years, which will guarantee that the scheme can be continuously improved, and that its climate objective is achieved and improved over time, consistent with the objective of limiting global temperature increase to well below 2°C, as agreed under the Paris Agreement.

The Assembly also formally endorsed the first ever CO2 standard for aircraft, after six years of international negotiations.

Next steps: ICAO needs to develop all the remaining elements and implementation tools to allow the GMBM to become operational in 2021. Participating states are expected to take all necessary steps to develop relevant implementing measures at domestic level.

The Commission will now report back to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU on the outcome of the ICAO Assembly. In that light, and if appropriate, the Commission should also make a proposal to review the scope of the European Union Emissions Trading System, with due consideration to be given to the necessary consistency to EU 2030 climate objectives and policy.


The Paris Agreement will enter into force in November, following its ratification by the EU earlier this week. It however does not explicitly mention aviation and ICAO was tasked to address emissions in this sector.

The European Union and its Member States have been among the main advocates of the GMBM (see 'Bratislava Declaration'). Ahead of the Assembly, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete and Commissioner Bulc had called on international partners to join the EU's efforts in securing a deal. In Montreal, Commissioner Bulc made a strong plea for global action and she, with the rest of the EU delegation, had intense bilateral contacts with all key partners. The EU also committed to support the implementation of the GMBM in lesser developed States. All these efforts were instrumental to broker the final agreement.

The EU aviation sector overall supports around 5 million jobs and contributes €110 billion to the EU GDP every year. Its future competitiveness goes hand-in-hand with greater environmental sustainability. Reducing aviation's environmental impacts is therefore a priority area of the Aviation Strategy for Europe adopted in December 2015. It is also part of the European Strategy for low-emission mobility adopted in July 2016. The implementation of the latter will be a priority in 2017 as President Juncker outlined in his state of the Union.

More information

Statement by Violeta Bulc, EU Commissioner for Transport

MEMO: Takeaways of the Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation


The Resolution on the GMBM (ICAO Website)


Publication date
13 October 2016
Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport