‘Ambitious countries must push for aviation and shipping in climate deal’

December 10, 2015

Countries calling for an ambitious agreement at the Paris climate summit must insist that language on aviation and shipping emissions be reinserted or the prospects of keeping global warming below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C, will be fatally undermined, green groups have warned. The latest draft deal, issued days before talks are due to end, dropped any mention of the two international transport sectors, which fall outside national reduction targets and therefore require an explicit reference in the agreement.


Earlier drafts of the deal at the COP21 summit this week had called for the ‘reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation and marine bunker fuels’ by working through the UN agencies that regulate aviation and shipping sectors. In 1997 the Kyoto Protocol tasked these agencies, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), with develop measures to tackle their emissions.

But now, 18 years on, the agencies have failed to do so, according to Transport & Environment and Seas At Risk, and rapid emissions growth from these sectors is set to make a 1.5/2°C target almost impossible to achieve. Aviation accounts for about 5% of global warming, and CO2 from shipping is about 3% of the global total. If treated as countries, the two sectors would both make the list of top 10 emitters. Just last month a scientific study commissioned by the European Parliament found that almost 40% of all CO2 emissions in 2050 will be caused by aviation and shipping if left unregulated.

The study took into account the IMO’s own research which found that shipping GHG emissions are up 70% since 1990 and are projected to grow by up to a further 250% by 2050. It also cites ICAO’s own finding that growth in demand for air travel will see its greenhouse gas emissions increase 300% by 2050, outpacing projected efficiency improvements.

T&E policy officer Andrew Murphy said: ‘The dropping of international aviation and shipping emissions from the draft Paris climate agreement makes keeping a temperature increase under 2 degrees close to impossible. Countries must insist that the Paris deal also tackles the two elephants in the room: planes’ and ships’ emissions.’

A final deal is scheduled to be reached by Friday evening, but talks are now expected to continue into the weekend.

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