International aviation emissions now firmly on the post-Kyoto climate talks agenda

11.4.2008     (GreenAir news)

An attempt by the European Union (EU), supported by nations such as Norway and New Zealand, to include aviation GHG emissions in an international climate change agreement
when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 met with resistance from some developing countries at last week’s UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) climate change talks in Bangkok.

However, a compromise was agreed in which the matter will be discussed in further
meetings set for this year.


Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, international aviation emissions, along with those
of shipping, were excluded from reduction targets to be met by developed countries
(so-called Annex I Parties) because of the difficulties in allocating emissions
to specific countries.

Instead, under Article 2.2, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) were charged with limiting or reducing the growth in, respectively, aviation
and shipping emissions.


However, the two transport industries are now very much in the political spotlight.
"I think everybody agrees that we have to find some way of addressing emissions
from aviation and shipping," Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, told delegates.


In its submission to the UNFCCC’s Ad Hoc Working Group [AWG] on Further Commitments
for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG KP), the EU said: "Importantly,
the way the rapidly growing emissions from international aviation and maritime
transport are addressed in the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol is not effective.

“The growth of emissions in both sectors, if it remains unchecked, might significantly
reduce the effect of the overall efforts in all sectors to prevent dangerous climate


"The EU has repeatedly expressed its concern that emissions from international
aviation and maritime transport represent one of the fastest growing sources of
greenhouse gas emissions. The EU calls upon all Parties [to the Kyoto Protocol]
to agree clear, meaningful targets for these sectors within the framework of a
future global climate agreement for the post-2012 period and urges Parties to
work towards stronger leadership by the UNFCCC in this matter, and in particular
for enhancing its cooperation with ICAO to develop a more effective approach to
address emissions from the [aviation] sector."


The submission went on to say "that despite some advances of late, especially
within the IMO, the progress of work in the IMO and ICAO falls short of our expectations,
as we made clear, in the case of ICAO, at its 36th Assembly.   Given the tight
time-frame for reaching a post-2012 agreement in Copenhagen in 2009, we call for
significant steps forward by ICAO and IMO to be reported at the December 2008 UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan."


In a presentation to an AWG [Ad Hoc Working Group] workshop at the Bangkok conference,
the EU’s delegate, Jakob Graichen, set out two main options that could be considered for addressing aviation emissions
either by including them in national totals or through a ‘sectoral’ approach
in which operators are directly responsible
.   The EU favours the second of these and is already making moves to include
aviation in its Emissions Trading Scheme in 2012.


Graichen said that international aviation and maritime transport had the potential
to generate up to $40 billion a year through mechanisms such as emissions trading
that could be used towards financial resources in helping reduce emissions globally.


In their own submissions to the AWG, both Norway and New Zealand said they supported
in principle emissions trading schemes.

Saudi Arabia said emissions trading was a good means of achieving mitigation
objectives provided it was limited to Annex I Parties and was non-sectoral, but,
to prevent "spillover effects", it should not be applied to developing countries.  
"Unilateral regional action will not contribute to international sustainable development
and should not be allowed under AWG".


Other opposition to the EU stance came from countries such as Thailand, Australia and China, who believed any regulation on the international air transport infrastructure could adversely
impact their economies and the matter should continue to be handled by ICAO.

However, Graichen said the agreement to discuss international aviation and maritime
emissions at the next two sessions of the AWG was "a major step forward".


He told GreenAir: "Yes, it is a compromise, but not a bad one."


other links:

Presentations to the AWG by ICAO, Norway and the European Union (Thematic session