UN climate negotiations need to get agreed emissions targets for international aviation and shipping
Bill Hemmings, of Transport & Environment, writing in Euractiv after the recent UNFCCC talks, says the relevant UN bodies should identify an emission reduction pathway, and ensure that any measures adopted are done so in a fair and equitable way. The UNFCCC negotiating text now includes wording calling for the setting of emission reduction targets for international shipping and aviation, in the context of the objective of the agreement – which is to limit any temperature increase to 2 degrees. There will be more dialogue between parties on why this wording should be included in the Paris Agreement at COP 21. In a “business-as-usual” scenario, CO2 emissions from shipping could increase by up to 250% and from aviation by 270% by 2050. These would account for one-quarter of all allowable emissions under a 2-degree scenario in 2050 and one-third under a 1.5-degree scenario. Despite this reality, the IMO and ICAO have a long record of inaction. ICAO says it will agree by 2016 the details of a measure to deliver carbon neutral growth in 2020, but even that is uncertain and it will depend heavily on the quality of offsets used. However, in any case “carbon neutral growth” by the aviation industry globally will be insufficient to meet a 2-degree scenario.
Paris: Don’t leave out planes and ships
There are a number of possible solutions to reduce emissions in the aviation and shipping sector. But the relevant UN bodies should identify an emission reduction pathway, and ensure that any measures adopted are done so in a fair and equitable way, writes Bill Hemmings.
Bill Hemmings is Aviation and Maritime Manager at Transport & Environment, a green NGO.
The UNFCCC negotiating text took an important step forward last week with the inclusion in the text of wording calling for the setting of emission reduction targets for international shipping and aviation, in the context of the objective of the agreement – which is to limit any temperature increase to 2 degrees.
The coming months represent an opportunity for a dialogue between parties on why this wording should be included in the Paris Agreement at COP 21.
The importance of this development is clear. Shipping and aviation each account for nearly 3% of annual global CO2 emissions. After taking account of non-CO2 indirect aviation impacts, cirrus cloud formation and nitrogen oxides (NOx), these two fast growing sectors almost account for 10% of the global warming problem.
Recent estimates have stated that business-as-usual emissions will increase by up to 250% for shipping and 270% for aviation by 2050. These would account for one-quarter of all allowable emissions under a 2-degree scenario in 2050 and one-third under a 1.5-degree scenario.
Despite this reality, United Nations bodies, IMO [International Maritime Organisation] and ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organisation], have a long record of inaction.
IMO don’t even have discussions of a target on the agenda and have refused since 2011 to advance discussions on a market-based measure. The IMO’s one step – an energy efficiency standard for new ships introduced in 2013 (the so-called EEDI) – will require a generation before it impacts the whole fleet.
ICAO has promised to agree by 2016 the details of a measure to deliver carbon neutral growth in 2020. But progress is slow and the “jury remains out” as the negotiations for agreeing a global deal among ICAO’s 190+ member states are being held by a small group of states in total secrecy.
If agreed, any ICAO measure will depend heavily on the quality of offsets used and in any case carbon neutral growth will be insufficient to meet a 2-degree scenario.
A key concern of parties to the UNFCCC is to ensure that any measures adopted by IMO or ICAO conform to their view of an appropriate application of the principles they hold dear.
The text proposed doesn’t prejudge this – it merely requires each organisation to identify an emission reduction pathway, and leaves it for parties to each organisation to ensure that any measures adopted are done so in a way that is fair and equitable.
Transport & Environment (T&E) is convinced that solutions exist for emission reduction measures for aviation and shipping that can respect and reconcile the principles held by parties to the relevant UN bodies.
Workable proposals to address differentiation and incidence have been advanced for both sectors, including ‘route-based’ differentiation for aviation, and for shipping a financial mechanism that ensures that revenue from any carbon price or levy is allocated in a manner that differentiates between developed and developing countries, in accordance with their capabilities, responsibilities, and circumstances, particularly for SIDS [Small Island Developing States] and LDCs.
As discussions continue, the wording may need to be strengthened and improved. However, its intent is clear – all sectors must play their part and all emissions sources must be covered.
By Bill Hemmings, Transport & Environment
Climate talks end with negotiating text that calls for international aviation carbon reduction targets and a levy
16.2.2015 (GreenAir online)
Negotiators meeting in Geneva last week to agree on the text to take to the all-important international climate summit in Paris later this year have included calls for global emission reduction targets for international aviation and a levy scheme applied to the sector to support climate change adaptation finance.
UNFCCC negotiating texts have proved notoriously fickle in the past and the references to international aviation – and its sister sector, shipping – could still be changed or dropped altogether.
Whereas ICAO is currently developing a global market-based scheme for aviation to achieve a goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020, the UN agency has consistently opposed a climate levy be applied as well to the sector. Meanwhile, ICAO is to outline progress so far on the scheme in a series of conferences, called GLADs, to be held in regions across the world during April.
The paragraphs agreed in Geneva referring to international aviation and shipping carbon reduction targets and a levy appear in separate parts of the 86-page document and so are not related.
The text concerning targets (para 23 bis) states: “In meeting the 2 °C objective, Parties agree on the need for global sectoral emission reduction targets for international aviation and maritime transport and on the need for all Parties to work through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to develop global policy frameworks to achieve these targets.”
The text is contained within square brackets, often a sign that perhaps not all Parties do in fact agree with the wording and therefore could be subject to change or omission. There is also a lack of clarity as to who should set the targets – UNFCCC or ICAO – or what those targets should be.
How States should effectively deal with international aviation and shipping emissions that by their nature predominantly are cross-border in nature or take place over the high seas has been a conundrum that has so far defeated negotiators at both UNFCCC and ICAO. However, a globally binding climate agreement at the Paris COP in December is seen by many as a prerequisite for achieving a successful outcome for ICAO’s market-based scheme under development.
The concept of a global levy to help with climate change adaptation is not new and following the agreement to set up the Green Climate Fund at the 2010 climate change summit in Cancun, Mexico, the aviation and shipping sectors were identified as potential contributors. With their rapidly growing emissions and their disproportionate impact on climate change, both sectors have been seen as legitimate sources of revenue to the fund that is aiming to deliver up to $100 billion a year to help developing countries adapt to climate change.
A report by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in 2011 concluded that a global carbon charge of $25 per tonne of CO2 on international transport could raise $12 billion per year by 2020 from international aviation.
However, the Geneva text refers not to the Green Climate Fund but to the separate Adaptation Fund. The paragraph (47.5) “encourages ICAO and IMO to develop a levy scheme to provide financial support for the Adaptation Fund” and both UN agencies “are encouraged to take into consideration the needs of developing countries, particularly the LDCs [Least Developed Countries], SIDS [Small Island Developing States] and countries in Africa heavily reliant on tourism and international transport of traded goods.”
The Adaptation Fund is a long-established UNFCCC fund set up to finance adaptation projects and programmes in developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. The fund is partly financed by a share of proceeds from the UN’s clean development mechanism (CDM) project activities.
It is unlikely that the UNFCCC Parties could force ICAO to impose a global levy on international aviation, hence the use of the word “encourage”. It is also hard to find many States that support the measure. Even the European Union, which might be seen to be in favour, has not expressed a formal position.
Since the Green Climate Fund levy first reared its head, ICAO has made clear its opposition. ICAO’s last Assembly in 2012 “urged that ICAO and its Member States express a clear concern, through the UNFCCC process, on the use of international aviation as a potential source for the mobilisation of revenue for climate finance to the other sectors, in order to ensure that international aviation would not be targeted as a source of such revenue in a disproportionate manner.”
ICAO argues that to achieve its aspirational carbon reduction goals the aviation sector requires adequate financial resources of its own that would be compromised by the imposition of an additional levy.
An insider with experience of the UNFCCC process told GreenAir that at this stage the text relating to aviation was not particularly significant. “It will only become so if the paragraphs stay the same heading into Paris,” he said.
Simon McNamara, Director General of the European Regions Airline Association, whose members are unhappy with the administrative and financial burdens of complying with the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) on what they consider to be an uneven playing field, said ICAO alone must be allowed to develop a global market-based mechanism.
“Work is already well underway in ICAO and a two-stream approach with influence by a non-aviation body is only likely to complicate the situation for ICAO,” he said. “ICAO should be the sole agency tasked with this effort and all Parties should focus on this.”
ICAO has sent out invitations to its Member States and other organisations to participate in two-day conferences being held in Lima, Nairobi, Cairo, Singapore and Madrid during April. As proposed at the last Assembly, the objectives of the Global Aviation Dialogues (GLADs) are to share information regarding market-based measures (MBMs) and their role in addressing aviation carbon emissions, and to provide an update on progress on the development at ICAO of a global MBM scheme. The GLADs are also intended as an opportunity for States and organisations to provide their own feedback.
Talks in Geneva target a carbon emissions cap on international aviation and shipping
Work is progressing on text for the climate talks in Paris in December. In Geneva work has started, with representatives from over 190 countries, on negotiating texts on how there could be caps on carbon emissions from international aviation and shipping. The EU has been supportive of this sort of cap, having been the first to have an Emissions Trading System including aviation, till the ETS was scuppered last year. Brussels eventually had to cut the range of the ETS to only include flights within the EU, after trade threats from the USA, China and others. Air travel is one of the fastest growing sources of CO2, and the Paris negotiating text might encourage the global aviation industry to levy funds to be used to help poor countries adapt to climate change. However, any measures to limit aviation CO2 emissions are expected to be opposed by many countries. Including shipping and aviation emissions in a global climate deal has proved difficult in the past. If emissions from these sectors are not addressed effectively by 2050, bunker emissions could swell to account for a quarter of all emissions. ICAO is working on a proposal for some form of market based measure on carbon, due to be considered in 2016. Bill Hemmings, of T&E, said: “ICAO has promised action by 2016 but operates in complete secrecy.”