This is the fifth in a series of eight snippets about how to decarbonise land freight by 2050. Based on a new T&E study, the series will culminate in a public debate in Brussels in September.
As delegates fly and equipment is shipped to another climate conference in Bonn, the question of who is responsible for the resulting emissions arises. The conventional wisdom is that they are covered not by the Paris agreement but by the two UN agencies which were established to regulate these sectors – the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Three years ago this may have made sense. Until the Paris agreement was finalised at the end of 2015, the major climate agreement in force was the Kyoto Protocol which tasked developed countries to work through ICAO and IMO to cut emissions.
When we talk about transport’s climate problem, we usually talk about cars, trucks, planes and ships as the big issues. But, of course, they’re only part of the story. The heart of the problem is not the vehicles or the mobility they provide, but the pollution they cause by burning oil.
Almost every Christmas gift you gave or received two months ago was transported vast distances across the ocean, spending weeks inside a shipping container. What powers these epic journeys across the globe? Unfortunately, it’s not reindeers. It’s the black, sludgy dregs of the refining process known as heavy fuel oil. Each tonne, when burned, releases several thousand times the amount of sulphur and tiny lung-damaging particles that petrol or diesel cars do, while also contributing to dangerous climate change.
This is the fourth in a series of eight snippets about how to decarbonise land freight by 2050. Based on a new T&E study, the series will culminate in a public debate in Brussels in September.
Last week European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker presented his plan for the future of Europe. Or, more accurately, he presented different scenarios for what that future could look like. It would be easy to dismiss this as another round of Brussels navel gazing but the truth is this debate matters. Especially to environmentalists.
America has a new president. And what a start he's gotten off to! His first weeks confirm our worst fears about what a Trump presidency will be like, in particular for the environment. Automotive regulation could be one of the areas most affected, as carmakers demand Trump guts Obama's 2025 CO2 standards in exchange for bringing back jobs to the US.
It is with a heavy heart that I write this last editorial for the T&E Bulletin, having led this wonderful organisation since 2004. The obvious question to ask now is ‘Have we made a difference?’
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.”
We all know the numbers by now. By 2030 GHG emissions in the EU need to drop 40% compared to 1990. For the traded sectors that means a 43% cut, for the non-traded sectors it requires a 30% cut – both compared to 2005. That was what the EU heads of states agreed in 2014. The 2030 climate targets were agreed before the Paris climate deal.