International Air Transport Association (IATA)

InfluenceMap Score
for Climate Change
Performance Band
Organisation Score
Montreal, Canada

Climate Lobbying Overview: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is actively lobbying against stringent climate policy for aviation at global, regional, and national levels in 2020-23. While IATA has supported an aspirational net-zero global aviation carbon emissions 2050 target, it has used its support for the global CORSIA offsetting scheme to oppose more stringent regional and national climate regulation for aviation, including the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading System.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: IATA has mixed top-line messaging on climate policy. Since 2009, IATA appeared to support a 50% reduction in global aviation emissions by 2050. However, in October 2021, IATA announced support for net-zero global aviation emissions by 2050 through an AGM resolution, and urged ICAO member states to support a “long-term goal equivalent to the ambition of the industry”. While IATA’s 2022 Annual Review, published in June 2022, appeared to support emissions reductions in line with a 1.5 degree target, it also appeared to emphasize cost concerns resulting from the EU’s Fit for 55 package. An October 2021 press release further appeared to oppose “retrograde and punitive taxes” on aviation, prioritizing the role of “incentives” over more stringent climate regulations. IATA has also consistently opposed ambitious regional and national climate legislation for aviation, including in two blogs from May 2022 which appeared to argue that regional regulations “undermine” global action through ICAO. An August 2022 IATA working paper before ICAO’s 41st Assembly in September 2022, further appeared to use support for global policy at ICAO to oppose regional and national climate policies for aviation.

Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: IATA has consistently advocated for the CORSIA offsetting scheme to be aviation’s primary climate legislation, while appearing to lobby to weaken the policy, alongside opposing various strands of climate legislation for aviation at national and regional levels. IATA has consistently supported ICAO’s CORSIA offsetting scheme, as the “only market-based measure” that should apply to international flights. However, in March 2020 IATA first proposed weakening CORSIA in a policy paper by changing CORSIA’s baseline date to solely 2019 emissions from an average of 2019-2020 emissions. IATA also appeared to lobby the EU in a private meeting in April 2020 to support changing CORSIA’s baseline date. In an August 2022 IATA Working Paper before the ICAO 41st Assembly in September 2022, IATA appeared to directly advocate for ICAO to maintain the weakened baseline of 2019 emissions until 2035.

In 2021-22, IATA has consistently opposed the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and supported its replacement with CORSIA, including in a July 2021 press release and in evidence submitted to a UK Parliamentary Committee in March 2022. In two May 2022 blogs, IATA further opposed the EU ETS for intra-EU flights, instead supporting regulation through CORSIA. Furthermore, in a June 2022 press release, IATA CEO, Willie Walsh, called on the EU Council to reject the expansion of the EU ETS to all flights departing the EEA, as proposed by the EU Parliament, instead advocating for regulation by CORSIA.

In January 2022, IATA published a document amending the EU Commission's ReFuelEU legislative proposal, which appeared unsupportive of the inclusion of international flights in the EU SAF mandate and opposed e-fuel sub-mandates. In a May 2022 blog, IATA appeared to oppose national and EU SAF mandates, instead supporting incentives and a global framework, and in a second May 2022 blog, IATA appeared to oppose the inclusion of international flights in the EU SAF mandate. However, in March 2021 comments in Euractiv, IATA appeared to take a more mixed position, supporting an EU SAF mandate “to intra-EU flights only in the first phase, with a potential to be extended in a second phase”. Similarly, a July 2021 press release stated support for an EU SAF mandate with numerous exceptions, including that it is accompanied by policies to ensure a competitive market and production incentives. IATA appeared to support Biden’s proposed SAF incentives in an April 2022 Travel Weekly article. A Fact Sheet published by IATA and accessed in June 2022, appeared to also support SAF incentivizes as proposed by the US Government, while stating “a mandate policy is not IATA’s preferred option” when referring to the ReFuelEU Aviation initiative.

Positioning on Energy Transition: IATA has actively opposed numerous measures to decarbonize aviation. A March 2022 Routes article communicated opposition to a Belgian ticket tax on flights, while evidence submitted to a UK Parliamentary Committee in March 2022 suggested opposition to ticket taxes. In response to a June 2021 UK public consultation, IATA also appeared to advocate for the abolishment of the UK Air Passenger Duty, while supporting a reduction in domestic APD. IATA CEO, Willie Walsh further advocated “for the scrapping of APD” in a November 2021 testimony to UK Parliament and stated “masquerading this cash grab as a green tax…is the height of political hypocrisy” in an October 2021 press release. According to a May 2022 Routes article, an IATA senior executive further stated the EU kerosene tax “must be dropped”. Furthermore, in July 2021, an IATA press release further stated opposition to an EU jet fuel tax. A March 2023 IATA press release also stated that IATA was taking legal action to oppose the Dutch government's policy to reduce flights at Schiphol airport. However, IATA has also stated general support for incentive measures to promote SAFs, including in a SAF Fact Sheet, accessed in June 2022, and December 2021 blog.

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