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.”



Talks target emissions cap on airline and shipping industries

Pilita Clark in Geneva

12.2.2015 (Financial Times)

A move to cap emissions from airline and shipping companies has emerged in talks on the global climate change agreement to be signed in Paris at the end of this year.

The idea of imposing carbon pollution targets on each industry has appeared in the lengthy negotiating text that representatives from more than 190 countries began working on in Geneva this week.

Bill Hemmings, aviation and shipping programme manager at the Brussels-based Transport & Environment research organisation, said that with aviation and shipping each accounting for about 3% of global C02 emissions, and with air travel in particular growing fast, it was time both sectors faced targets to limit their pollution.

Bill commented: “How can we have large countries like China and the US, and developing countries making commitments to cut their emissions while these two sit on their hands? …The issue is not even on the agenda of the IMO, the UN’s shipping body. ICAO has promised action by 2016 but operates in complete secrecy. Both sectors are exempt from fuel tax so a levy on emissions to help countries adapt to climate change makes great sense.”

……. full FT article at



Where are the bunkers on the road to Paris?

In the final years of negotiations for the new climate agreement, it’s still not clear if it will include the fastest growing emissions sources — international aviation and shipping, also known as bunker fuels.

CO2 emissions from international shipping and aviation were about 950 megatonnes (MT) and 705MT respectively in 2012; combined they account for as much emissions as Germany, the sixth largest emitting country.

When indirect effects are taken into account, the impact could already be approaching 10% of global climate forcing. In the almost two decades since the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) started discussing greenhouse gases, little concrete action has materialised and, scarily, these emissions are on course to double or even treble by 2030.

If emissions from these sectors are not addressed effectively by 2050, bunker emissions could swell to account for a quarter of all emissions.

Such high emissions from the international transport sector would make it all but impossible to limit aggregate global warming to less than 2ºC as it would place an impossible emission reduction burden on other sectors.

IMO and ICAO discussions have seen limited progress.

Carbon neutral growth from 2020 is the most ambitious goal that the aviation sector has proposed, allowing emissions to grow to 2020 and then offsetting growth beyond that. This is far short of what is required for a 2ºC pathway, and there is little assurance that even these goals would be implemented.

International shipping emissions are predicted to increase between 50% and 250% by 2050. The IMO suspended consideration of market-based measures in 2011, and the question of setting a global cap on shipping emissions is not on the IMO agenda. Efficiency regulations agreed for new ships will likely not have a significant impact for several decades, and the shipping industry is now fighting any new measures.

At COP 21, the UNFCCC should mandate the setting of robust and meaningful reduction targets, as well as the adoption of mitigation measures that will ensure these sectors begin to play a fair and equal role in addressing dangerous climate change. Eco welcomes the introduction of text in the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) yesterday which demands the setting of targets for emissions from these sectors consistent with staying below 2ºC.




See also

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.

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Background: UNFCCC

Geneva is hosting a conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from February 8-13, 2015. The UNFCCC, a UN secretariat based in Bonn, Germany, has 196 parties – including virtually all of the world’s nations – and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol for cutting industrial heat-trapping gases that warm the atmosphere like a greenhouse.

The Geneva conference is meant to be a negotiating session to prepare for the climate summit in Paris in December. The summit is meant to keep the planet from overheating by stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that will limit further human-induced climate change. The aim of the six-day conference in the Swiss city is to prepare a streamlined negotiating text for the summit. One highlight will be talks about something called “intended nationally determined contributions”, which are publicly announced commitments that are meant to put the planet on a path towards a low-carbon future. Under the UNFCCC, virtually all the world’s nations would commit to a new climate agreement in Paris based on these contributions.