Corporate Capture and the UN International Civil Aviation Organization

An InfluenceMap Report

October 2022

See coverage including Politico, Daily Kos, Eco Business, Energy Mix, and Simply Flying

How corporate interests influence global climate policy at the UN body for aviation


New analysis finds the aviation industry has an outsized influence over global climate rules for the sector amid limited public scrutiny, according to a detailed analysis of corporate engagement and transparency rules at the UN's aviation agency.

The report finds that ICAO's key climate negotiation body, the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP), adopts numerous concerning transparency practices that are not replicated in other major UN climate negotiation forums. These include requiring delegates to sign non-disclosure agreements to participate and prohibiting the media from attending key cliimate negotiations.

Moreover, at climate meetings since the Paris Agreement at CAEP, over 30% of delegates come from the aviation or fossil fuel industries. At these meetings, industry outnumbered environmental delegates by more than seven to one and only a single environmental group, the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA), is permitted to attend such meetings, compared with seven industry groups.

The analysis highlights how the aviation industry’s efforts to influence global climate policy at ICAO appears to have been highly successful. For example, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) seemed to have first proposed a similar measure to, and subsequently helped develop, and later propose weakening, ICAO’s main climate rule - the CORSIA offsetting scheme, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has since confirmed “does not lead to a reduction in in-sector emissions” from aviation.

The findings raise serious questions around the potential adoption of a long term aspirational goal (LTAG) of net zero CO2 emissions from international aviation by 2050 at the 41st ICAO Assembly. Industry, led by IATA, has championed this goal despite broad opposition to near-term policies that might help achieve this target, and multiple IATA key members - including the CEO of Etihad - raising doubts about its feasibility.

InfluenceMap’s analysis suggests that the global aviation industry has used its support for net-zero in PR campaigns to help promote ‘sustainable’ flying and distract attention away from policy efforts that would otherwise reduce in-sector aviation emissions, particularly at national and regional levels.

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