IPCC report puts extra pressure on EU ministers to cut car and aviation emissions

Today the world’s leading climate change scientists were crystal clear: transport needs to drastically reduce and eventually eliminate its emissions as soon as possible for the world to stand a chance to limit global warming to 1.5°C and avoid catastrophic climate change. The special report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stresses the urgency of strong action across all transport modes. European NGO federation Transport & Environment (T&E) warns that transport is Europe’s biggest climate problem where carbon emissions are growing faster than in any other sector.

Europe sees itself as the world’s climate leader and the Commission is currently drafting a strategy to achieve net zero emissions in 2050. Tomorrow EU ministers meet in Luxembourg to discuss CO2 standards for cars and trucks, the biggest CO2 polluters in road transport.  Analysis shows [1] the Commission’s proposal for 30% CO2 cuts from new cars and trucks by 2030 fall drastically short not only of the ambition demanded by the IPCC but also of what would be required to reach the EU’s own much weaker climate law for 2030.

Carlos Calvo Ambel, manager for analysis and climate with T&E, said: “Transport is the rotten apple of the EU climate barrel. In order to avoid spoiling the entire barrel, Europe needs decisive action on transport emissions now. The first, obvious place to start is cars, which will be discussed tomorrow by ministers. A big majority of EU governments support more ambition. They should ignore the German car industry’s predictable complaints and support a 40% reduction in car emissions in 2030. This is the bare minimum.”

The IPCC report clears up any doubts some might have had that international aviation and shipping emissions are covered by the Paris Agreement. The IPCC makes clear that, without action on these major and growing sources of emissions, the goal of limiting a temperature increase to 1.5 degrees cannot be achieved. 

The report's finding that efficiency improvements alone won't be enough are a wake-up call to governments to put flying on a pathway to decarbonisation. The report recognises the challenge for decarbonising aviation, with a need to pursue ambitious efficiency improvements and new fuels. The findings make clear that the type of offsetting proposed for the sector by its UN agency ICAO has no role to play in drastically reducing emissions from planes.

Carlos Calvo Ambel added: “Without cutting aviation emissions there is no way the world can avoid dangerous climate change. We've been ignoring this issue for too long. ICAO has proposed letting aviation off the hook by allowing it to buy so-called offsets. The scheme is not only incredibly weak, it is also fundamentally at odds with the Paris Agreement which requires all sectors to decarbonise. Europe urgently needs to take measures to put the sector onto a decarbonisation pathway. The time for greenwashing is over.”

In the coming weeks, Transport & Environment will be releasing a series of studies showing how to decarbonise each transport mode in order to avoid catastrophic climate change, feeding into the Commission 2050 climate long-term strategy to be presented in COP24.
 

Footnotes: 

[1] See for example this German analysis by the Agora Verkehrswende of the contribution made by the Commission’s CO2 standards to Germany’s 2030 climate targets, or T&E’s analysis on impact of vehicle CO2 standards on national transport emissions


Contact the press team

Nico Muzi
Communications Director
+32 (0)484 27 87 91 
nico.muzi@transportenvironment.org

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