The Honorable Mary Peters
Secretary of Transportation
36th ICAO Assembly
September 18, 2007
Thank you. It is a great honor to represent the United States at this distinguished Assembly, and to be joined by a very able U.S. team. Most of you know our Ambassador to ICAO, Donald Bliss, and our Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, Jeff Shane. And I am pleased to introduce Bobby Sturgell, our new Acting Administrator at the Federal Aviation Administration. He takes over for Marion Blakey, who completed her tenure last week.
We have come together here in Montreal because we recognize the international nature of aviation. Countless flights cross borders and link nations every day. The passengers on board these flights carry a variety of passports, and speak a multitude of languages. And the airplanes carrying these passengers -- and the many parts that go into them -- also have diverse origins.
Aviation's global reach is exactly why ICAO is the right forum to make aviation safer, more secure, and more environmentally sound across the globe.
Over many decades, ICAO has filled its role admirably.
It has given the world, among other things, an international standard for safety that is unmatched -- helping bring about a 25 percent reduction in major aviation accidents in the most recent five-year period.
ICAO also has proved its ability to deal with crises. It showed its value in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and growing terrorist threats around the globe, by bringing the world community together to set new international standards for security.
In the United States, we say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and it is a tribute to the unparalleled effectiveness of this organization that we are today examining the ICAO model in our effort to ensure the safety of products and goods traded in the global marketplace.
I want to urge my colleagues to remain true to this legacy of cooperation over the next two weeks.
Just as we have benefited from a unified global approach to safety and security, we need to work under the auspices of ICAO to develop an effective global framework for addressing aviation's environmental impacts. Unilateral measures by a single country or region are wholly inconsistent with the collaborative, global approach that ICAO has advanced so successfully in other areas for aviation.
Let me be clear. The United States is committed to acting decisively to find ways to reduce aviation's carbon footprint. But there is no easy way to solve this problem, much less a "one size fits all" approach for every country.
Market-based measures -- including emissions trading -- may very well become part of an effective approach. But any scheme affecting international flights can only be adopted after mutual consent by countries whose airlines are affected.
And it would be a mistake to ignore the role of technology and other innovation in reducing emissions.
We have seen incredible success in the United States, the largest aviation market in the world. At a time when our airlines are carrying 12 percent more passengers and 22 percent more freight than they were just seven years ago, the industry has successfully cut CO2 emissions by 10 million tons a year. That is the equivalent of taking 1.6 million cars out of the daily commute to work.
These reductions have come through innovations that are delivering cleaner, more energy-efficient aircraft and engines as well as ground equipment.
They are the result of new technologies and operating procedures that are producing more efficient air traffic routes and airspace configurations that reduce emissions and fuel usage.
A core technology for improving the efficiency of air traffic management and aircraft navigation -- and thus central to any plan to curb emissions -- is the Global Positioning System, or GPS. This technology supports not just navigation, but also hundreds of everyday applications from communication and emergency response to financial services and precision agriculture.
Thirteen years ago, the United States announced that it would make the benefits of GPS available to everyone, everywhere, free of charge.
Today, on behalf of President Bush, I am pleased to announce that the next generation of GPS satellites (GPS III) will deliver signals without any compromise in precision -- guaranteed. That is because the United States will remove the "selective availability" capability from that system. Eliminating this source of potential uncertainty in GPS performance for civil uses will make the system even more attractive to the world's users.
Aviation is and must remain a global enterprise. We are committed to working with the international community through ICAO to achieve consensus on key security, safety, and environmental goals.
Cooperation here has not always been easy. But this organization has always found a way to forge solutions that guide international civil aviation.
I am confident that, with cooperation, we will find solutions to today's critical issues, including emissions. I wish you all well for the success of this Assembly. Thank you.
# # #