Last week’s deal reached at ICAO, the UN agency, to establish a global offsetting programme for aviation received a mixed response, yet it was heralded by industry and some policymakers as the dawn of sustainable aviation.
By Bill Hemmings, aviation and shipping directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: 2015 ended with big promises from the UN aviation and shipping bodies, ICAO and the IMO, that they’d finally act to rein in their sectors’ substantial and growing climate impact. It has been almost 20 years since they were first tasked with doing so by the Kyoto Protocol, and 2016 would be their last chance.
Growth in emissions from shipping and aviation will undo nearly half (43%) of the savings expected to be made by the rest of transport in Europe through to 2030, a new independent study has found. It means that almost half of the already-inadequate emissions savings expected in land transport will be cancelled out by ships and planes, according to the report commissioned by sustainable group Transport & Environment (T&E).
This report analyses the demand for liquid fossil fuels in the EU transport sector over the years 2010 to 2030, notably for the sectors maritime transport and aviation. The estimations are based on figures published in the EU energy transport and GHG trends to 2050 - reference scenario for 2013 that accompanied the 2030 climate package Impact Assessment of the European Commission, as well as on the analysis underlying the European Commission’s Impact Assessment on MRV regulation for the maritime transport sector.
More than 65 countries have signed up to offset, but not reduce, aircraft emissions from international flights, starting in 2021. However, participation in the scheme until 2027 is voluntary and its coverage of emissions falls well short of the ‘carbon neutral growth in 2020’ target promised by UN aviation body ICAO and industry. The European Commission will now examine the agreement and decide what action to recommend be taken in light of the current suspension of the emissions trading system’s (ETS) coverage of flights into and out of Europe.
Today’s decision to offset but not reduce CO2 emissions from aircraft, and on a voluntary basis, is a weak start which must be followed with more effective measures by states to rein in aviation emissions, Transport & Environment (T&E) has said. The deal’s coverage of emissions falls well short of the ‘carbon neutral growth in 2020’ target promised by UN aviation body ICAO and industry, and the lack of clear rules for offsets presents a clear risk to the measure’s environmental effectiveness.
ICAO is about to proclaim mission accomplished in its 20-year search to appear relevant in the fight against aviation climate change. An impressive list of ministers and notables has gathered in the organisation’s Montreal headquarters to help break out the champagne. Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc, leading the EU delegation, summed up the aim: “To defend the deal on the table as the lowest common denominator, that is our target.”
The aviation sector could be doing twice as much to reduce the fuel consumption of planes than is currently expected. That’s the finding of a new study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) which says new aircraft could be consuming 25% less than they do now within eight years and 40% less in 18 years.
After 3 years of work, ICAO is due to agree a global climate deal for international aviation at its triennial assembly Sept 27 - Oct 7th. The outcome will be closely watched to see if the sector can take action to limit is considerable and growing climate impact.Transport & Environment and Carbon Market Watch, with the support of WWF European Policy Office and AEF, organise a post-assembly lunch event to consider the outcome of the assembly and its implications for European climate and aviation policy. The event will present expert analysis of any agreement and discuss what are the next steps, in particular implications for the EU Emission Trading System.Please register here.