Bunkers: No More Evasive Maneuvers

The way things are going, ships and airplanes will be able to cruise the seas and skies without serious emissions control measures for some years to come. Earlier this year the International Maritime Organization (IMO) indefinitely suspended its consideration of market based measures (MBMs) that can put a cap and a price on emissions in line with the polluter-pays principle.

In early October, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) decided to ‘develop’ (the text neglected to commit to actually ‘adopt’ or ‘implement’) an MBM by 2016 – not a particularly noteworthy achievement after well over a decade discussing these very measures. And the only emissions target mentioned in the agreement (but still in essence bracketed by party reservations) is carbon neutral growth after 2020. Meanwhile, under intense pressure from airlines and many governments, the EU is severely scaling back its ETS coverage of international air traffic, the only measure in the world that regulates aviation emissions.

The shipping and aviation industries must be very pleased with themselves. Thanks to their intensive lobbying of transport ministries and the tendency by governments to treat these sectors as a proxy for the broader negotiations, countries seeking action on emissions from these sectors have practically thrown in the towel.

Giving the IMO and ICAO free rein to pursue emissions from these sectors with no real accountability is not likely to turn out well for people or the planet. The owners of ships and airlines have much more direct influence over transport ministries that represent parties in these bodies. These sectors have benefitted from their unique access to tax-free fuels for too long to be willing to start paying their way now. Ambitious emissions reduction targets and anything resembling carbon pricing for these sectors is highly unlikely.

The UNFCCC must ensure that the international shipping and aviation sectors contribute their fair share to global efforts. They should be included in any considerations of equity, such as calculation of historical responsibility and other applicable indicators. The ADP and the COP must adopt decisions that either set emissions limits directly, or provide guidance to ensure a sufficient level of ambition in emissions reduction efforts, particularly in emissions limits set as part of global Market Based Measures. The new legal agreement to be finalized in 2015 must contain provisions that ensure these sectors contribute their fair share to global efforts.

To ensure accountability and adequate consideration of these sectors, the ADP must receive regular reports from ICAO and IMO on efforts to control GHG emissions from these sectors, including progress towards implementation of market based measures that can put a cap on emissions, put a price on emissions, and generate finance for climate action.


CAN Annual Policy Document: "Warsaw on the Road to Paris"

Executive Summary

Through a series of decisions adopted at COP 17 in Durban, South Africa, countries reaffirmed their resolve to tackle climate change. They further built on those decisions at COP 18 in Doha, Qatar. This resolve is yet to be put into action as global emissions continue to push the world towards warming of 4 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century.

However, the Earth's planetary limits and thus tipping points of its ecosystem have almost been reached. There have been devastating impacts of climate change across the world in the form of super storms, floods, droughts and enhanced extreme weather events. Climate change impacts are costing countries scarce financial resources while the global economy continues facing a major downturn. Impacts are addressed temporarily as the root cause remains unaddressed.

Lack of political will continues to be the key impediment crippling progress in the UNFCCC. Inadequacy of financial resources has hampered ambitious mitigation actions. It has also slowed down effective operationalization of mechanisms meant to help the world cope with impacts of climate change. Key issues such as equity as well as loss and damage wait to be addressed adequately.

It is time that countries catch up with the reality of climate change. Displaying leadership and courage to take difficult decisions is the need of the hour. Lack of political will should not continue to impede ambitious action to tackle climate change.

CAN wishes to remind parties that a climate safe pathway for 2/1.5°C is still feasible and nations must strive for it at COP 19 in Warsaw. They only have the luxury of two more COPs to commit to a climate agreement in 2015. Time is of essence and there are still many unresolved issues - lack of trust between countries being the prominent one.

COP 19 should be used to start working towards a fair, ambitious and legally binding climate plan for the world. CAN suggests that COP 19, as a priority, should address short-term mitigation ambition and the financial gap. This will help build trust amongst parties and create a positive momentum towards a post 2015 climate regime.



Agreement needed in ICAO on global MBM for aviation

On September 24th in Montreal, the 38th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will take place, and high on the agenda will be how to control fast-growing greenhouse gas emissions from international air travel.

After more than 15 years of discussions of market based measures (MBMs) to put a price on carbon pollution and ensure that emissions targets are met, countries have still not agreed to implement a global MBM. Agreement is now within reach but the draft agreement that recently emerged from ICAO Council, to be voted on at Assembly, would delay a decision to adopt a global MBM for another three years. The Climate Action Network (CAN) does not accept any further delay in agreeing an MBM and believe that the text currently on the table text must be improved in key respects:

·       The agreement must commit to adopt (not just develop) a global MBM by the next ICAO Assembly, to take effect by 2016. Anything less will send the signal that the aviation sector is not serious about making significant progress to protect the global climate. Further delay could also result in a patchwork of regional and national schemes, and would justify decisions and direction on controlling aviation emissions from other bodies.

·       The agreement must ensure the development of an ambitious MBM that reflects the latest science on the scale and urgency of emissions reductions required, and a full carbon pricing mechanism that reflects the polluter-pays principle. Full consideration should also be given to revenue generation for climate finance, especially for adaptation and mitigation efforts in developing countries, noting that any finance used towards developed country climate finance commitments must have no net incidence on developing countries. After all, it is business and relatively affluent travellers who make up the bulk of air passengers, and they can afford to pay for their pollution.

·       Any global MBM must cover all emissions from flights on the routes covered under the mechanism, and not be restricted to the airspace of any particular country or region. 

The final agreement must address the impacts on of those developing countries that could be particularly affected by an MBM, such as small island states and least developed countries. Route based approaches can be found to reflect special circumstances and respective capabilities, including the maturity of aviation in different countries, which maintain the environmental integrity of the MBM and ensure the vast majority of emissions from international aviation are covered. Differential use of revenue generated can also ensure an equitable outcome.

The time has come for a decisive outcome that leaves no doubt about ICAO’s ability and determination to control international aviation’s growing climate impact. The global aviation sector has an opportunity to show leadership and vision, rather than further attempts to delay progress. 



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