The Solution is Plane to See

5 June 2013


A question to delegates: How will you ensure that the two fastest growing sectors in terms of emissions – international aviation and maritime transport – contribute their fair share to global efforts to reduce emissions?

In Monday’s reports to SBSTA by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the news was not good. The IMO has suspended discussions of market based measures (MBMs) to some undefined date in the future, and with it the chance to set emissions targets for the shipping sector, which accounts for around 3% of global emissions.

On the aviation front the news isn’t quite as bad, at least not yet. The ICAO Council will discuss MBMs for aviation later this month, and MBMs are still on the table. There is some encouraging news from the aviation industry itself this week – the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents most airlines globally, has called on ICAO to adopt a global MBM this year. Although the specifics of their proposal leave a lot to be desired – only offsetting growth in the sector after the year 2020 – IATA’s decision puts the spotlight on ICAO.

Measures for these sectors, which would internalise the environmental externalities by putting a price on emissions and generating finance that could be used to respond to the climate crisis, are facing fierce resistance in both the IMO and ICAO. These bodies need to get serious and adopt adequate measures to control their pollution – in September (ICAO) and by 2015 (IMO). They still have a chance to prove that they can take the necessary steps, but the clock is ticking on these organisations to deliver.

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