Between global climate governance and unilateral action
The adoption of Resolution A-39/3 during the 39th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in October 2016 has been largely welcomed as an historical achievement. After years of negotiations, the adopted scheme represents, in fact, the first multilateral move to tackle the impact of international civil aviation on the global environment, in accordance with the mandate given to ICAO by Article 2.2 of the Kyoto Protocol and, more generally, with the principle of international cooperation in environmental issues. The European Union’s resort to unilateral measures and the heated debate that followed played a major role in reaching such a result. However, it is highly uncertain whether the ICAO measure will indeed prove effective and will prevent the resurgence of unilateral manoeuvres. The scheme features several pitfalls, which may hinder its effectiveness and defeat its very purpose. This chapter examines the content and nature of the global market-based measure agreed upon within the ICAO, in order to assess whether it may be regarded as a breakthrough capable of halting unilateral drifts or, rather, as a ‘failed’ attempt to build a ‘global governance structure’ addressing the growing problem of greenhouse gas emissions from international civil aviation.