Rocking the Boat, Flying to the Moon Palace

2 December 2010

Delegates arrive by plane and eat food that’s been shipped by boat – international transport has been part of the COP since the beginning.  And while there are 100% biodiesel buses bringing delegates from the Messe to the Moon Palace, we are a long way (whether by plane or boat) from having international transport running on clean fuel.  
Even if the weak voluntary measures proposed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) are implemented, emissions from transport, if kept unregulated, would amount to 30% of the annual global emissions budget by 2050 to be compatible with a 2° C objective. In the 1.5° C scenario the figure is even worse, it’s above 60%!
But there is some good news too.  There are now ways for global regulation of emissions from international transport to cause no net incidence on developing countries. This guarantees consistency with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities without affecting economic efficiency – something that has been blocking a decision in this arena.
Even better, there are many options available to generate climate finance, some of which could yield upwards of $10 billion USD per year, while also generating funds for technology innovation in the international transport sectors.  That’s another point that has been blocking progress.  And better yet, you guessed it, some of these options can also achieve significant emissions reductions.
If given a clear signal at this COP, regulations under the International Maritime Organization (IMO) could be operationalized as early as 2013. Remember, the closure of the fast-start financing period will be upon us in two short years.  A decision here at Cancun would allow FSF, much of it actually non-additional, to be replaced with real, new and additional finance.  That would be something for delegates to be proud of as they taxi down the runway leaving the Cancun International Airport for well-deserved time off at the end of the year.   
As the High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing (AGF) points out, no single source is going to reach the promised $100 billion USD level by 2020.  ECO therefore reminds developed countries that substantial public financing from you will also be required.  And it is easy to see that financing from international transport should be part of any package.
Sending a clear signal to IMO and ICAO at COP 16 will not only help prevent a finance gap but also take a big step to ensure environmental consistency and climate stabilization.

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