* Four options to be endorsed by governing council
* Says ICAO must find consensus between 191 countries
* Favors more liberalization in aviation sector
(Adds background, detail)
March 2 The head of the United Nations
body that oversees civil aviation said on Friday that his agency
still plans to have a proposal on measures to address emissions
from aviation by the end of 2012, even as critics push for
"I read the press like anyone. I listen to all of the
criticisms which have been stated by some about the pace,"
Secretary General Raymond Benjamin told Reuters in an interview
marking his reappointment for a new three-year term at the helm
of the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization
"You have to understand that ICAO is an international
organization with a membership of 191 countries, and you have to
find a consensus."
ICAO, created in 1944, sets what it describes as strategic
objectives for the airline sector, focusing on safety, security
and environmental issues.
It was thrust into the global spotlight after the European
Union proposed controversial new rules for airline carbon
emissions, forcing ICAO to accelerate its hunt for "market-based
measures" that could be an alternative to the EU proposals.
The EU rules mean that all airlines that use the bloc's
airports must pay into a carbon offset program, stirring threats
of an international trade war with the potential to disrupt
global air traffic.
More than two dozen countries, including the United States
and China, are opposed, and have suggested retaliatory measures
that could include barring national airlines from participating
in the EU's scheme, cutting off talks with European airlines on
new routes and imposing levies on EU airlines.
Benjamin said ICAO's governing council is considering four
unspecified market based measures, and two others have been
eliminated. The council will be asked this month to endorse
those four options and identify next steps, with a final
proposal due by year end.
If all goes according to plan, the ICAO's next general
assembly would approve the new guidelines when it meets in the
fall of 2013.
An ICAO spokesman said in December that the basic options
under consideration are some form of emissions trading,
fuel-based carbon levies, levies on departing passengers and
cargo, and carbon offsetting.
MARKET ACCESS FOR AVIATION
Benjamin said ICAO is working towards a more liberal
environment for air transport, and is planning a global
conference that will address the issue in March 2013.
"We are totally in favor of liberalization. We are in favor
of market access," he said.
"All of these issues about competition will be on the table.
It will not be only governments meeting here to discuss them,
but all of the industry and regional organizations."
Pressure is growing in the United States and elsewhere to
relax restrictions on who can own airlines, a change that would
push the sector toward global airlines rather than to carriers
tied to particular countries.
(Reporting By Allison Martell in New York and Susan Taylor in
Toronto; Editing by Janet Guttsman)