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.
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.
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.