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Goal set for capping emissions from international aviation
by Staff Writers
Montreal (AFP) Oct 9, 2010

UAE warns Canada ties may be hit by lack of air deal
Dubai (AFP) Oct 10, 2010 - Canada's ties with the United Arab Emirates will be "affected" by the lack of an agreement to expand aviation links between the two countries, the UAE's ambassador to Canada was quoted as saying Sunday. "The UAE is disappointed that despite intensive negotiations over the last five years, the UAE and Canada have been unable to arrive at an agreement on expanding the number of flights between the two countries," Mohammed Abdullah al-Ghafli was quoted as saying by the official WAM news agency. "The fact that this has not come about undoubtedly affects the bilateral relationship," the ambassador said.

The report said that the existing six commercial flights a week fell short of the economic needs and growth potential of both Canada and the Gulf state. The Canadian embassy in Abu Dhabi could not be reached for comment on Sunday, while UAE foreign ministry officials were also not immediately available. But according to Canadian media reports, the country may have to withdraw from a "secret" military base near the UAE transport hub of Dubai as a result of the disagreement. "The Canadian government is now preparing to relocate forces from the United Arab Emirates to somewhere such as Cyprus rather than give in to what it considers unreasonable demands from the host country," The Globe and Mail reported on its website on Friday in reference to the commercial flights issue.

The Vancouver Sun said Saturday that "Canadian soldiers and aircrew have only 27 days to pack up and clear out of Camp Mirage, the not-so-secret airbase in the United Arab Emirates that Ottawa established seven years ago to support military operations in Afghanistan." The daily's website said the UAE suspended a memorandum of understanding on the base on Tuesday, after the Canadian government balked at a demand that "Dubai-based Emirates Airlines and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways... each be granted daily flights between Toronto" and the UAE. About 27,000 Canadians live in the United Arab Emirates, which is one of Canada's biggest economic partners in the Middle East with bilateral trade valued at about 1.5 billion dollars per year, WAM cited Ghafli as saying.

The International Civil Aviation Organization has set a goal of capping emissions from international aviation beginning in 2020 while gradually improving fuel efficiency.

The UN agency approved the "aspirational" goal, which is not binding on any of its 190 members, in a final resolution late Friday of a meeting here of its general assembly.

The organization also unanimously supported a comprehensive aviation security strategy that calls for identifying and preventing new forms of attacks, streamlined security checks, and helping states improve their capabilities in this area.

President Barack Obama issued a statement Saturday praising the security declaration as "a historic new foundation for aviation security that will better protect our world from evolving terrorist threats."

On the environmental side, IAOC reaffirmed a goal of improving fuel efficiency by an average two percent a year through 2050.

It also said its members agreed to "work together to strive to achieve a collective medium term global aspirational goal of keeping the global net carbon emissions from international aviation from 2020 at the same level."

The goal was not binding on any individual state and the resolution included a host of caveats such as the "special circumstances" of developing countries, the maturity of aviation markets and sustainable growth of the industry.

In a press release, the ICAO acknowledged that some member states expressed reservations about the resolution but said its passage nevertheless made ICAO the first UN agency to lead a sector in "a globally harmonized agreement for addressing its CO2 emissions."

"It is a major achievement," said Helen Kearns, spokeswoman for the European Commissioner for Transportation Siim Kallas.

"Contracting states will have to submit to ICAO how they intend to reach their target," she told AFP in Brussels.

"Second, it does not prevent anybody to go further and faster and acknowledges certain parties would do so," she said, adding "EU can go ahead."

Kearns said the resolution endorses a European plan for imposing a carbon emissions tax starting in 2012 on flights destined for or originating in Europe, which has drawn legal challenges from US airlines.

The International Air Transport Association also hailed the resolution as "historic."

"For the first time, we have globally agreed aspirational goals to stabilize emissions," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's director general. "This is a good first step that prepares the way for future achievements."


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