Planes and ships hampering road transport’s climate efforts

The extent to which transport is falling behind in reducing its CO2 emissions is highlighted in a new report by the Dutch consultancy CE Delft. It shows that emission reductions from land-based transport are still significantly behind what they need to be, and nearly half of the forecast reductions are set to be wiped out by the growth in emissions from aviation and shipping.

The report indicates that growth in energy consumption from shipping and aviation will add 19 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) between 2010 and 2030. This is nearly half (43%) of the savings forecast to be made by the rest of transport in Europe during the same period of time. And since land transport is expected to consume 43 Mtoe less energy per year by 2030 (compared to 2010), this means that transport as a whole is only cutting its energy consumption by 24 Mtoe. That is well below what needs to be achieved under the EU effort-sharing scheme.

The effort-sharing decision established obligatory annual greenhouse gas emission targets for EU states. It covers most sectors not included in the Emissions Trading System (ETS), such as land transport. Under this scheme, cars, vans, trucks, trains and barges need to reduce their emissions by around 30% compared to 2005 – a cut of 87 Mtoe in terms of energy consumption. It therefore means that the 43 Mtoe cut is less than half of what is needed.If growth in energy consumption from shipping and aviation is taken into account, it goes down to 28%. Yet to stay on track with the 2°C limit agreed under the Paris Agreement, land transport would have to reduce by 138 Mtoe its energy consumption from fossil sources by 2030.

Bill Hemmings, T&E’s aviation and shipping director, said: ‘Planes and ships are free-riding at the expense of land transport’s already insufficient efforts to cut emissions. This is not only unfair but a roadblock to Europe meeting its own climate commitments. Governments need to think again and include shipping in the ETS and strengthen its aviation provisions.’

Tackling the environmental impact of aviation and shipping has been problematic for more than two decades. Aviation was included in the EU ETS from the start of 2012, but the EU was forced to cut back its environmental scope by 75% following international pressure to give the International Civil Aviation Organisation time to act. The Commission is due to report later this month on the outcome of ICAO’s recent assembly where a voluntary offsetting regime, to begin in 2021, was agreed. The aviation ETS reverted to full scope on 1 January 2017

Shipping is back in the spotlight after the International Maritime Organisation’s October meeting effectively delayed any decisions on a global reduction target or market based measure until 2023 at the earliest. Just before Christmas, the European Parliament’s environment committee voted convincingly to create a Maritime Climate Fund under the EU ETS. Shipowners could either voluntarily opt in to the fund, or alternatively be obliged to join the ETS. If agreed by the full Parliament and then in negotiations with member states later this year, the scheme would become operational in 2023 unless the IMO had a comparable global scheme in place by 2021.