Closing the Gap On Aviation and Shipping

2 May 2013

This is the year for a fresh start in addressing emissions from aviation and maritime transport – those uniquely international sectors that have generated so much discussion and so little action over the years.

This year, the Assemblies, the highest bodies of both the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) are meeting for the last time before 2015. This will be their chance to make progress on these fast-growing sectors in the pre-2020 period, including by putting a price on emissions from ships and aircraft.
These sectors can make an important contribution to closing the gigatonne gap, both in the period up to 2020 and beyond. These sectors, which account for around 5% of global CO2 emissions, can contribute reductions of up to 0.5 GtCO2e. But perhaps more importantly, decisive progress in addressing these emissions can restore confidence in our multilateral institutions and demonstrate the collective global political will needed to make the transformative steps necessary to prevent a climate disaster. 
What’s more,  we cannot pass up the chance to use carbon pricing from these sectors as an innovative source of reliable and stable public climate finance for actions in developing countries, and in the sectors themselves, to supplement contributions from the budgets of developed countries.
A decision on a global approach to carbon pricing on aviation this year is critical. The ICAO Council has created a High Level Group on Climate Change  to unlock progress and give political impetus to this discussion, in advance of the September ICAO Assembly. The Council meeting coming up later this month will be the best opportunity to assess progress in the High Level Group and find agreement on a comprehensive global approach that includes carbon pricing for international aviation emissions.
On maritime transport, the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee will also meet later this month and is likely to resume discussions of options to put a price on emissions. Decisions need to be taken that create a clear roadmap to reach an agreement on carbon pricing.
Finally, to ensure these sectors make their fair contribution to global mitigation and financing efforts, the ADP needs to put emissions from international transport firmly on its agenda in both Workstreams, and send the signal to the IMO and ICAO that action is expected in 2013.
In all of these fora, the key to progress is finding creative ways of addressing equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in workable ways appropriate to these inherently international sectors. Concerns from both developed and developing countries about setting precedents for other sectors can and should be addressed. After all, the uniquely international nature of maritime transport and aviation requires approaches tailor-made to these sectors, which cannot be seen as precedents for other sectors where emissions occur entirely on national territory.

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