The negotiations, to put in place the world’s first carbon offsetting scheme for any global sector, have had the backing of the aviation industry, which first proposed the measure in 2009.
Executive director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), Michael Gill, said that the ICAO agreement was an historic moment for aviation and for climate negotiations in general.
“The industry took an unprecedented step to ask for a global measure to deal with the growth in aviation carbon dioxide emissions from 2020 onwards. What was a visionary approach seven years ago has today become a reality," remarked Gill.
"We thank the government negotiators who have worked so hard to deliver a scheme which will successfully balance the growth in air transport and all of the economic and social connectivity benefits that it brings, with the need to address CO2 emissions from the sector.”
He added: “In addition, 65 States have already volunteered to join the carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for international aviation (CORSIA) from its outset in 2021. This means that over 80% of the total growth in aviation CO2 after 2020 will now be covered and, indeed, this may increase as more States choose to join the scheme.
"Despite some reservations over the scheme being voluntary in its initial years, the support of all these States – large, small, developed and developing – shows the commitment of the international community working through ICAO to deliver a robust measure.
"We shall continue to encourage even more States to declare their voluntary participation in the CORSIA.”
International aviation was one of two sectors not dealt with in last year’s Paris Agreement.
“Negotiators in Paris had faith in ICAO to deliver an agreement for international air transport emissions tailored to the unique circumstances of our sector," noted Gill.
"That faith has truly paid off and, today, governments have approved a scheme that will fill one of the remaining pieces of the climate change challenge.”
The industry, however, insists that this agreement is just one element of the sector’s climate change commitment.
ACI World director general, Angela Gittens, said: “The aviation industry is making great strides where environment is concerned.
"This historic climate agreement follows last week’s ACI Resolution supporting CORSIA as the global market-based measure for international aviation; and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between ACI and ICAO for enhanced cooperation on environmental related initiatives.
"With these commitments, the priority now is collaboration to provide capacity building, and coordination, so that we can work together to deliver the right assistance in the right place and at the right time.”