MONTREAL — Airline passengers may once again be allowed to board flights with creams, gels and liquids that were banned over security concerns, the International Civil Aviation Organization said Monday.
"In the next two years (the ban) will end," ICAO Secretary General Raymond Benjamin told AFP ahead of the UN organization's 37th general assembly, which kicks off in Montreal on Tuesday.
New equipment capable of detecting explosives in water bottles, makeup kits or toothpaste tubes, for example, would be installed at most airport security checkpoints by 2012, he explained.
The unprecedented security measure took effect in 2006 after British police foiled a transatlantic plot to detonate liquid explosives aboard airliners flying to Canada and the United States.
Benjamin said controversial full body scanners, opposed by nations including Italy, will still be used to varying degrees in the short term because they allow for quicker inspections and reduce lines at airport security checkpoints.
Some countries may refuse to allow passengers to board airplanes unless they pass through the scanners, he added. Others may offer an alternative physical search.
The ICAO conference, which concludes on October 8, will touch on three main themes: aviation security, safety, and reducing its environmental impact.
Some 1,200 delegates are expected to attend the talks, including 40 government ministers.
The United States will be represented by Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, and US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will attend the opening day of the talks.
Benjamin said the ICAO is proposing to cut airlines' total carbon dioxide emissions, which currently account for only 1.4 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming, by two percent annually over the next 10 years.
The proposal is not part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, provoking objections from a group of 77 developing countries led by China, Brazil and India.
Within the framework, developing nations believe they should be able to press for more funding from industrialized nations to help meet emissions targets.
The United States is also expected to object to the European Union's plan to to levy a fee on airline emissions starting in 2012 under its carbon dioxide emissions trading system.
All flights departing and arriving on European soil would be subject to the fee, which is opposed by Washington, Benjamin said.
"We have to secure an accord to present in Cancun," he added, referring to the next UN climate change conference, scheduled to take place in the Mexican city in November.
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