International shipping and aviation will have to cap their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) soon for the world to meet the ambitious goals laid down in the Paris Climate Change Agreement, participants at a side event at the Bonn climate change conference heard today.
Emissions of carbon dioxide from aviation and shipping are growing at a combined rate of 3-5 percent annually. Efforts by the United Nations bodies overseeing these sectors to agree and adopt strategies to address climate change have moved forward but critical action areas remain to be fully addressed, panelists in the session said.
There is “recognition that all countries need to tackle emissions from international transport,” said Martin Cames, Head of Energy and Climate at Öko-Institut. “Setting a target is key . . . and targets need to be reviewed and periodically strengthened.”
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and International Maritime Organization
(IMO) have the challenge of reducing global emissions from their respective sectors. Shipping and aviation are not directly included in the Paris Agreement.
In December 2015, countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, pledging to take on increasingly ambitious targets aimed at peaking and then sharply reducing GHG emissions to keep the average global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius and perferably limit it to a safer 1.5 rise above pre-industrial levels.
Kelsey Perlman, a policy officer at Carbon Market Watch, said at ICAO’s high level meeting that wrapped up in Montreal last week, representatives were divided over how to proceed with market-based measures to help the sector meet its aspiration of climate neutral growth from 2020.
Differences focused on what and who the scheme should cover, but on the positive side she reported on the inclusion of more robust wording in the latest draft documents (for example, using the word standard instead of guideline) acknowledging the need for environmental integrity of any such market measure and referencing the Paris Agreement directly.
Meanwhile, emissions of carbon dioxide from shipping are projected to increase by 50 to 250 percent in the period to 2050, and “could torpedo Paris ambition,” said John Maggs, Senior Policy Officer, Seas at Risk. “What’s needed is a steep, steady drop in emissions from 2020.”
Although shipping “didn’t get a mention in the Paris Agreement, it didn’t go unnoticed either,” and the industry’s position “has changed quite dramatically,” said Mr Maggs, reporting on IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting held in April. Discussion has moved toward “talk of decarbonization” and support for “an INDC for international shipping,” said Mr. Maggs.
In the lead up to the Paris negotiations, countries submitted plans detailing their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) to address climate change. These plans and future reporting on contributions and outcomes, are a cornerstone of the Paris Agreement.
Mr Maggs listed areas where the shipping sector needed to tighten up action. For example, ships built following the industry’s efficient design guidelines are about as efficient as ships not covered by the guidelines, and provisions for monitoring, reporting and verifying ship efficiency “lack transparency,” he said. “We won’t be able to tell an efficient ship from an empty ship.”