Common But Differentiated Responsibilities of UNFCCC

Climate change evaluation is one of the most important issues in the field of environmental policies in preparing meetings. Therefore, it is necessary to reconcile the difference between the issues of non-discrimination among supporters of Chicago Convention and those advocating “common but differentiated responsibilities” (CBDP) introduced by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Particularly, the UNFCCC postulates the necessity to protect the climate system “in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 2013). Respectively, “the representatives of the developed economies should fight for the decrease in climate change, as well as the negative outcomes of this phenomenon”. The principle led to the emergence of ‘Annex I’ of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, according to which industrialized countries established the objective to reduce greenhouse gas. Due to the fact that the field of aviation transport development undermines the environmental safety, as well as the Kyoto Protocol targets, the countries violating the principle were excluded from the agreement due to the difficulties in distributing them among. In contrast to the provisions developed by the United Nations, the Chicago Convention focuses on discriminative policies in terms of nationality. Article 1 of the Convention acknowledges exclusive and complete sovereignty of each party involved over the airspace. Article 11 stipulates that the provisions of a State referring to the admission, operation or departure of the aircraft will be employed to the airspace without reference to nationality. Finally, Article 15 discusses the conditions under which a State must identify national aircraft with foreign one. However, the convention ignores the concept of sovereignty concerning airspace, particularly over the high seas. At the same time, Article 12 of the Convention postulates that over the high seas principles should be established under the auspices of the Convention to delegate the delivery of airspace services.

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With regard to the above-presented explanations, there is a number of divergence aspects in managing environmental policies on the part of the provisions accepted in Chicago Convention and those introduced by United Nations Framework. In particular, the CBDR creates the foundation for the recent proposals accepted by the Aviation Global Deal Group and the Association of European Airlines concerning the integration of emissions from aviation into the Kyoto Protocol (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 2013). The main concept has been put into other conventions and discussions of the United Nations. Routes should be distributed in accordance with the countries participating in the Framework on Climate Change. The country classification should be introduced by the UNFCCC to distinguish such countries of industrialized, developing, or emerging type. The concept should be considered accordingly to remove the problem of carbon leakage; nevertheless, it turns out to create viable solutions.

A number of legal concerns arise while reconciling both provisions accepted by UNFCCC and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Specifically, due to the fact that the global approach to solving the problem of aviation emission has not been discovered, there is a plethora of legal actions where principles accepted in one State can influence another. If a State approves both the UNFCCC and the Chicago Conventions principles, it takes an independent responsibility for ensuring the consistent adoption of the corresponding laws and regulations. Other potential underpinnings for legal actions have been expressed in Article 15 of the Chicago Convention, according to which “no fees, dues or other charges shall be imposed by any contracting State in respect solely of the right of transit over or entry or exist from the territory of any aircraft of a contracting State” (ICAO, 1944, p. 10). The advantages of employing these provisions are not relevant to the article objectives. One path of understanding the tangible shift can relate to Article 84 of the Convention that discusses the Settlement of Disputes. Nevertheless, those who are aware of time-consuming and daunting proceedings will be reluctant to consider the Article as an option.

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So far, the ICAO’s provisions fail to consider these problems due to the divergence between CBDR and equal opportunities. The legal situation prescribed above implies the responsibility, and some States support the policy, whereas others expect to accept the generic position of the CBDR principle. Therefore, both aviation and climate conditions require detailed considerations in political, social, commercial, and legal terms. All these dimensions are important to explore because they shed light on such concepts as sovereignty, international aviation industry, greenhouse gas emissions, and existing international treaties resolving the problem of emission allowances and climate change problems.

Despite the previously established confrontation and the current debates on aviation and climate change, ICAO adopted a global policy addressing climate change problems, particularly the issue of GHG emissions. The ICAO’s suggestions were confined to several recommendations and solutions. To begin with, the resolution involves further endorsement of improving fuel efficiency by 2050 (ACT Global, 2010). The global carbon dioxide emissions would also be stabilized by 2020. Further, the feasibility of international aviation goals should also be explored to reconcile the CBDR principle with equal opportunities established in the Chicago Convention. Next, the development of a market-based plan and creation of a global framework for international aviation are also important elements for solving the problem of climate change and imposing responsibilities on aviation operators. Finally, introducing global air traffic principle is an important condition for stabilizing the situation. The ICAO’s resolutions provide a range of opportunities to demonstrate global efforts of international aviation in achieving the objectives to sustain environmental perspectives in the context of international aviation. ICAO is encouraged to promote its leadership that would govern international aviation issues and control the process of reducing gas emissions. This resolution will allow delivering a harmonized global framework.

The resolutions adopted by ICAO manage to fully reconcile the policies adopted by UNFCCC and the Chicago Convention. Specifically, the international aviation initiatives oblige the member States to acknowledge the critical significance of introducing efficient leadership to civil aviation in reducing gas emissions contributing to a climate change problem. What is more important, the organization recognizes both the principle and provisions of “non-discrimination and equal and fair opportunities to develop international aviation set forth in the Chicago Conventions”, as well as “the principles on common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and with developed countries taking the lead under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol” (ACT Global, 2010, p. 4). Aside from the resolution, the international aviation operators have managed to establish other important standards for aircraft that support the environmental safety and sustain the policy of gas emission reduction. It should also be noted that ICAO’s activities in the sphere of global climate regulation are also encouraged by the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP). Specifically, the Committee explores the reliability and effectiveness of aircraft certification systems in terms of economic feasibility, technical reasonableness, and environmental concerns (ACT Global, 2010). Additionally, CAEP examines other aspects associated with emissions of engines to study the influence of these emissions, as well as defines the ways of controlling them. Finally, the organization cooperates with national authorities and local governments to discuss the challenges and offer recommendations for sustaining a safe international environment.

Despite the fact that the UNFCCC does not directly relate to aviation emissions control, its initiatives cover these aspects, as well. Specifically, the Convention is committed to national inventories analysis of emission sources. In order to narrow down the focus of the Convention, it is advisable to refer to the guidelines provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that provide recommendations on the assessment and quantification of aviation emission. The nature of emissions should also be distinguished even after the identification of the source of emissions. For instance, domestic flights are considered to be an integral part of the national aircraft. The guidelines provided by the IPCC require aviation emissions to be assessed by the States where the fuel was sold despite the fact that such emissions were excluded from the total amount of emissions in this country. In contrast, international flights consider the problem of distributing emissions to national inventories.

In order to understand the strategies of reconciling the CBDR principle with the equal opportunities accepted in the Chicago Convention, it is possible to refer to similar cases with international shipping. In particular, Kageson (2011) discusses how International Maritime Organization shipping can be adjusted to the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibility. Specifically, the author proposes a market-based plan for reducing carbon dioxide emission caused by shipping activities. The most acceptable option refers to the global application of introducing revenues for developing countries. Another opportunity to develop a certain period when shipping emissions could be allowed for non-Annex I countries by limiting the adoption of a market-based measurement to evaluate the shipping emissions on their way to another port. Additionally, the author notes, “IMO could apply a phased-in approach by alternatively endorsing a scheme that is open to voluntary participation by states and ports or a scheme that covers all traffic to port in Annex I countries” (Kageson, 2011, p. 5). While drawing the parallel between this case and the emissions related to international aviation, it should be stressed that ICAO could take this approaches into the deepest consideration to encourage the developing countries participating in the Convention to adopt these principle and work on emission reduction.

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The market-based measure for international aviation emission will be essential for complementing technical and operational elements although these global efforts should be determined accurately. The problem of consistency of CBDR principles and the equal opportunities of entering the international space should be considered in detail, particularly when it comes to non-European member States, such as India and China. Therefore, there is no acceptance in the European ETS – the system that involves provisions according to which commercial operators that face the problem of low aviation activity in Europe are not included from its scope; however, it has a negative impact on non-European countries that are restricted to carry more than 200 flights. International aviation was separated from other provisions in Kyoto substantially because its operational origins are not ready to adjust to the national commitments and inventories. This has introduced the application of certain expertise in terms of understanding industrial issues. However, there is still a negative outcome of this solution. Aircraft industry taken in isolation fails to provide sustainability in environmental terms being accountable for 2 % of global carbon dioxide emissions and about 1 % of Growth Domestic Products, which forms the 2:1 ratio (Green Air, 2013). However, its value consists in introducing social and economic services and goods. For instance, tourism takes into consideration the air transport and represents about 5 % of global emissions in general, which shapes 1:1 ratio (Green Air, 2013). Although air transport excluded from context could ensure sustainable development in environmental terms, introducing aviation for travel and tourism, can create the driving forces for growth.

Aside from political and social aspects of the UN Convention and the Chicago Convention, there is a number of legal aspects of introducing the reconciliation between the principles. The European Union breaches the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol and provides the International Civil Aviation Organization as an entity that has the absolute responsibility for decreasing the level of gas emission from international aviation (Centre for International Sustainable Development Law, 2012). Therefore, the EU signifies to the Kyoto Protocol that should operate through ICAO. Similar to this, the member States agree to adhere to the emission trading agreements. The international customary law is also violated by the European Union; instead, the EU employs ETS to those flights that are carried out beyond the European territory, and, therefore, these territories are subject to sovereignty. Because aircraft operations should adhere to the emission limits accepted for international flights, the ETS creates extraterritorial responsibilities for foreign airlines, which contradict the concept of sovereignty. The EU’s position also contradicts the Chicago Convention because the system imposes illegal taxation and charge on aircraft companies. In particular, Article 15 of the Chicago Convention stipulates that charge imposed on facilities other than design for air navigation is not allowed. Because the EU imposes a charge on landing and take-off, which does no relate to navigational and airport costs, this charge is considered illegal. It is evident that the principle of sovereignty creates a controversial situation in reconciling the principles of differentiated responsibilities and equal opportunities because it fails to introduce amendments to the taxation system of the flights.

In order to face the problem of greenhouse gas emissions caused by airline transport, Martinez-Garcia (2012) proposes the methods of distributing emission allowances through auctioning. According to this principle, 15 % of aircraft emissions could be auctioned, whereas the remaining 85 % will be distributed free of charge after the application process is submitted by the aircraft provider to inform the authority in the controlled Member State. In these terms, should an airline exceed the 85 % limit, it will have to pay for the rest of the emissions allowed. However, if the airline emissions do not surpass the limit, it receives the possibility to take part in trade of these allowances. This position does not only reconcile the divergence between the provisions of the Chicago Convention and UNFCCC but also provides a new form of commercial relations in the world.

Divergent interests, concerns, economic positions, and cultural aspects have a potent impact on climate change resolutions in various countries. Therefore, the main task of the UNFCCC provisions is to ensure that the aviation provisions suit these norms. The task of reconciling the range of suggestions and outlooks on the problem of global warming is a daunting and sophisticated process because it implies a number of ethical undercurrents, as well. This is of particular concern to such issues as availability of financial resources and level of technological advances are not of paramount importance. Rather, developing economics are more concerned with social development, as well as strategies eradicating high unemployment and poverty rates. As a result, the problem of aviation emissions and climate change do not constitute the priority for the governments. In response to the discrepancies in socio-economic and historical development in various countries, the convention postulates that developed countries should take advantage of their financial opportunities and combat the climate change. They should also provide financial and technological resources for developing economies to encourage their participation in the problem resolution. Once the developing countries are provided with the necessary support, they will need to introduce measures to adjust to climate change provisions accepted by the UNFCCC.

The necessity to consider the problem in the light of rapid division of countries into different categories is urgent due to the emergence of major gas emitters in the developing world, such as China and India. From this perspective, it is necessary to specify the definition of a developing economy because of the rapid economic advancement of China. Despite the progress in solving the problem of differentiated responsibility, the countries face the challenge as a whole solving how nationally relevant mitigation actions could be controlled and supported. To solve the issue, the Copenhagen conference was held in 2009 to negotiate the steps and measures resolving the confrontations between the developed and developing world. Prior to the conference, it should be stressed that the Copenhagen Accord possesses an ambiguous and unconventional legal status. Due to the opposition of developing economies, the Conference did not approve the Accord. Instead, the Conference took into account the document and established the processes for the parties to identify themselves with this document by reporting to the UNFCCC secretariat.

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The concept of differentiated responsibilities should be adopted not only to developed and developing economies but also to the different types of developing countries. In this respect, it is necessary to distinguish three types of countries, such as the least developed, the small island developed, and the developing countries themselves. As soon as key distinctions have been singled out, it will be possible to undertake the corresponding actions in terms of policies directed at controlling aviation emissions. Additionally, the aviation transport development in poor economies differs significantly from that in the developed world and, therefore, the ratio of emissions complementing the total amount of emissions (Bushey & Sikina, 2010). Most of the provisions accepted in the Chicago Convention can reconcile with the climate change policies in case the countries are allowed to introduce their own strategies to deal with the problem. However, these strategies should not contradict the principles of international law. The attention should also be given to the EU policies for controlling aviation emissions. The policy encourages other countries to identify their own strategies fighting with climate change and global warming. The exception of aviation operators from emission countries introduce identical regulations that could contribute to the European policy. As it has been previously mentioned, the adequate allowance system is the best solution for reconciling the provisions accepted by the UNFCCC and the Chicago Convention.

In conclusion, it should be stressed that the Common but Differentiated Responsibilities accepted in the UNFCC and equal opportunities proposed by the Chicago Convention could be reconciled as soon as several solutions and recommendations are taken into consideration. To begin with, the members of the European Union should be more concerned with the International Law while establishing the taxation and charges for non-European airline operators that cross the EU territory. It is important for the member States to adhere to the International Law. The allocation of emission allowances among the developed and developing countries is another important solution for controlling gas emissions and climate change policies. Therefore, the UNFCCC and the Chicago Convention could be reconciled through ICAO provisions that impose restrictions on aviation flights annually. In such a way, it will be possible to work out specialized strategies for the developed countries to encourage the developing world to participate in the problem resolution. Additionally, establishing the commercial base for European countries is essential for reconciling the aviation emissions with climate change reduction. The auctioning is the best solution in the case because it does not allow developing countries to raise funds and improve their economic situation. Finally, constant control of political and social processes creates new possibilities for growth and improvement, as well as development of new environmental policies.

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