Iata is claiming a historic agreement as airlines backed plans for carbon neutral growth.

A resolution passed at the airline trade body’s AGM in Cape Town calls on governments to establish procedures for a global single market-based measure (MBM).

Member airlines are calling for a single mandatory carbon offsetting scheme as the simplest and most effective option.

Aviation claims to be the first industry to suggest a global approach to the application of a single MBM to manage its climate change impact.

An MBM is one of the four pillars of the aviation industry’s united strategy on climate change. Improvements in technology, operations and infrastructure will deliver the long-term solution for aviation’s sustainability, according to Iata.

Director general and chief executive Tony Tyler said that the agreement focuses on a single global MBM as part of a basket of measures.

“A single MBM will be critical in the short-term as a gap-filler until technology, operations and infrastructure solutions mature,” he said. “So we cannot take our eye off the ball on developing sustainable low-carbon alternative fuels, achieving the Single European Sky or the host of other programs that will improve aviation’s environmental performance.”

Environment will be at the top of the agenda for the 38th International Civil Aviation Organisation Assembly in September.

The aviation industry urgently needs governments to agree, through ICAO, a global approach to managing aviation’s carbon emissions, including a single global MBM, Iata said.

Tyler told the meeting yesterday: “Airlines are committed to working with governments to build a solid platform for the future sustainable development of aviation.

“Today, they have come together to recommend to governments the adoption of a single MBM for aviation and provide suggestions on how it might be applied to individual carriers. Now the ball is in the court of governments. We will be strongly supporting their leadership as they seek a global agreement through ICAO at its Assembly later this year.”

But he added: “For governments, finding agreement on MBMs will not be easy. It was difficult enough for the airlines, given the potential financial implications.

“Bridging the very different circumstances of fast growing airlines in emerging markets and those in more mature markets required a flexible approach and mutual understanding.

“But sustainability is aviation’s license to grow. With that understanding and a firm focus on the future, airlines found an historic agreement.

“This industry agreement should help to relieve the political gridlock on this important issue and give governments momentum and a set of tools as they continue their difficult deliberations.”