7 Dec 2020


New York, 7 December 2020

International aviation plays a key role in human affairs.  It lets us discover our world’s wondrous geographic and cultural diversity. It enables us to learn about and benefit from each other. And it connects societies through global travel and trade, advancing access to food, education and healthcare.  These benefits are critical to every country’s attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

This year’s observance of International Civil Aviation Day falls as COVID-19 has severed international connections by air, cutting off businesses from clients, keeping tourists from destinations, and disproportionately affecting the vulnerable.  It has also disrupted the operations and finances of airlines and airports worldwide, threatening their capability to assure the global supply of medicines, vaccines, humanitarian aid and other vital goods. 

Countries must act urgently to sustain their air transport sectors in the face of these challenges. Yet, they must do so with climate in mind.  Emissions from aviation account for more than 2 per cent of the global total, ranking it in the top ten emitters.  Recovery from the pandemic is simultaneously an opportunity for climate action, including to make global aviation more resilient and sustainable as a key part of efforts to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

I welcome recent commitments to net-zero emissions made by members of the aviation community.  I urge the entire sector to commit to net zero by 2050 and develop a strategy in alignment with the Paris Agreement well ahead of next year’s climate conference.  Cooperation between governments and industry will be essential to achieve a timely transition.

Aviation is an important engine of our world, and will be play a critical role in lifting the world to recovery from COVID-19.  Let us ensure it receives the support it needs to keep the world’s nations connected and united.