Would delegates complain if their ticket price to come to the Bonn session has a small surcharge to cover the allowances for the aviation emissions?How about if the money that is collected was destined for climate finance? Well, the inclusion of international aviation into the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) precisely does that. The aviation industry, at least in the US and China, is complaining to the Courts and lobbying their governments to use their influence to stop the EU’s leadership decision to include aviation emissions within their Emissions Trading Scheme.
Frustrated with endless delays in discussions on how to regulate aviation emissions at ICAO, the EU acted on its own, including airlines in their Emissions Trading Scheme beginning in 2012. All flights flying in and out of Europe will have to start paying emission allowances and be subject to a declining cap. But the EU gave an incentive to other countries: if they create “equivalent measures” to reduce airline emissions from international flights in their own countries, their airlines flying into Europe won’t be subject to the ETS.
Sadly, countries are not taking them up on their challenge. Instead, the US airline industry is suing to dispute the scheme. US airlines have also gone to their pals in the US Congress and are pleading with the Obama Administration to come to their rescue. NGOs in the US have called on the government to defend Europe’s right to reduce emissions and be on the side of environmental integrity, not pollution from aircraft.
In an unfortunate alignment of interests, Chinese airlines have now said they will challenge the scheme as well. The BASIC countries’ statement also indicated that they are uncomfortable with the EU action, on the grounds that it’s unilateral and does not adhere to the CBDR-principle as laid down in the Convention. However, the door is still open for the BASIC to deal with aviation and maritime emissions within the UNFCCC-framework. A global system is preferable, but the EU is on the right track and its actions illustrate how to make this work at a global level. The AGF report last year introduced the concept of “no net incidence” on developing countries that can ensure that a global system of international transportation emissions measures can fulfill the principle of CBDR.
ECO believes a multilateral approach would be the best approach to these inherently global sectors, is a global approach under a multilateral regime that reconciles the principles of non-discrimination that prevails in these sectors (IMO and ICAO) with the principles of the climate convention, including CBDR.
In the absence of a global regime, the EU should be congratulated on its efforts to fulfill its KP Article 2.2 responsibilities to regulate aviation emissions under its jurisdiction. However, this is only the second-best solution – the best approach would be global, while respecting CBDR.
The UNFCCC should support ways to control the rapidly growing emissions from these global sectors, respecting the principles of the various regimes, while ensuring they play a role in financing global climate action, and that there is no net incidence or burden on developing countries. Aviation emissions are projected to nearly triple in the next few decades. The EU is doing its part to address this rapidly growing problem. If Parties want a global solution, then they must start here in Bonn, placing bunkers squarely on the agenda, with a goal of arriving at a decision in Durban on international transportation emissions and finance.
All parties, particularly those expressing reservations about the approach taken by the EU, should work vigorously towards an agreed outcome in Durban that ensures these global sectors make the biggest possible contribution to emissions reductions and global climate resilient and low carbon development.