Press Release

Excluding aviation and shipping emissions from COP deal makes 2°C limit close to impossible

December 9, 2015

The dropping of international aviation and shipping emissions from the draft Paris climate agreement published this afternoon has fatally undermined the prospects of keeping global warming below 2°C, green NGOs Seas At Risk and Transport & Environment (T&E) have said. As their emissions uniquely fall outside national reduction targets, they require an explicit reference in the agreement.

If treated as countries, global aviation and shipping would both make the list of top 10 emitters. In recent years their emissions have grown twice as fast as the those of the global economy – an 80% rise in CO2 output from aviation and shipping between 1990 and 2010, versus 40% growth in CO2 emissions from global economic activity – and they are projected to grow by up to 270% in 2050. [1]

The Kyoto Protocol tasked the UN agencies that regulate these sectors, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), to develop measures to tackle their emissions. Now, 18 years on, these agencies have failed to do so, and rapid emissions growth from these sectors is set to make a 1.5/2°C target almost impossible to achieve.

Andrew Murphy, policy officer at T&E, 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. Those parties calling for an ambitious agreement must insist that language on international transport be reinserted.”

Aviation accounts for about 5% of global warming, and CO2 from shipping is about 3% of the global total. Both sectors are among the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gases at a global level and could be responsible for 39% of world CO2 emissions in 2050 if left unregulated, according to a scientific study published last month by the European Parliament.

John Maggs, senior policy advisor at Seas At Risk, said: “History may now judge aviation and shipping as industries that, while the rest of the world moved forward at COP21, sat on the sidelines and refused to contribute.”


Note to editor:

[1] ‘All adrift: aviation, shipping, and climate change policy’, (2014) Bows-Larkin. Climate Policy

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