Today parties have their last and best chance to make progress on addressing emissions from international shipping and aviation, already contributing to more than 5 percent of global emissions and growing faster than any other sector. More than 15 years of negotiations in three UN bodies, including the UNFCCC and the sectoral bodies IMO and ICAO, have produced very little, especially regarding progress on market-based measures (MBMs) that can incentivise emissions reductions while generating significant financing for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries, as well as for efficiency measures within these sectors.
The principal stumbling block has been disagreement on how to reconcile the UNFCCC’s principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDRRC) with the principles and approaches in the IMO and ICAO, based on global approaches with equivalent treatment on all ships and aircraft, anywhere in the world. Technical work on exploring options for putting a price on carbon in these sectors is well advanced, but lack of agreement on how to reconcile the different principles is blocking progress.
Today the LCA spin-off group on sectoral approaches will consider text that addresses exactly this issue, and one text option on the table could hold the key to breaking this long-standing deadlock. Singapore has proposed a short elegant text that can provide the basis for a useful guidance to IMO and ICAO. Parties should simply agree here under the UNFCCC that measures to tackle emissions in these sectors under IMO and ICAO should be pursued through global approaches based on the principles of those bodies, while also taking into account UNFCCC principles, including CBDRRC, with perhaps direction on how – e.g., through the use of finance. This might be a simple solution that could be a great leap forward for these crucial sectors. Think about it!