Aviation and shipping emissions shamed by #FossiloftheDay at #COP21 reports @takvera

Elephants in the room: aviation and shipping emissions need to be included in Paris agreement. Photo: John Englart

Elephants in the room: aviation and shipping emissions need to be included in Paris agreement. Photo: John Englart

There are many intricacies to negotiating a climate agreement covering greenhouse gas emissions. One of the areas easy to overlook is aviation and shipping sector emissions.

Emissions from aviation and shipping are projected to grow, so it is important that they are considered in any climate agreement.

Aviation is responsible for almost 5 percent of all global warming and its emissions are predicted to grow by up to 300 per cent in 2050. Emissions from bunkers is also forecast to grow 270% by 2050. Such growth rates would make the target of keeping the global temperature increase to under 1.5 or 2°C almost impossible to achieve.

Yet international shipping and aircraft also enjoy tax free fuel subsidies to the tune over over 60 billion US dollars.

A Fossil of the Day was awarded in the first week to the International Maritime Organisation and International Civil Aviation organisation to highlight that they were lobbying to be not mentioned or covered in the Paris agreement.

In October 2015 Tony De Brum, the Foreign Minister of the Marshall islands, labelled Koji Sekimizu, secretary general of the International Maritime Organisation, as a danger to the planet. The comment was made after Koji Sekimizu opposed regulating carbon emissions in the shipping industry, according to a RadioNZ report.

Andrew Murphy, aviation and shipping officer at NGO Transport and Environment, said: “Emissions from the aviation and shipping sectors are the elephants in the room. Any deal in Paris must require ICAO and IMO to set emission reduction targets and measures for ships and planes, otherwise the efforts of all the parties to the Paris Agreement to meet the 2 degree target will be derailed.”

Shipping could be responsible for up to 17 per cent of global CO2 emissions in 2050 if left unregulated, according to a recent study (Cames et al 2015 – PDF)

Sotiris Raptis, shipping and aviation policy officer at Transport and Environment, said: “Now we know that, left unregulated, ships and airplanes could be responsible for almost 40% of global emissions in 2050 if other sectors decarbonise. Any deal in Paris must lead to an emissions reduction target and measures for shipping and aviation, otherwise the efforts of all other sectors of the global economy to meet the 2 degree target could be derailed.”

These sectoral emissions are one of the ‘elephants in the room’. The Fossil of the Day award shone a spotlight on this issue and likely has influenced the agreement in this small area. The good news is that these sectors remain in the draft Paris agreement up to Friday, perhaps stimulated by media and public interest in the issue generated by Climate Action Network’s Fossil of the Day on Day 3 of the conference.

You can catch more Fossil of the Day produced by the Climate Action Network at the UN Climate conference at my Youtube playlist: COP21 Fossil of the Day Awards.

Disclosure: John Englart is an accredited observer at the UN Climate Conference through Climate Action Moreland affiliation with Climate Action Network Australia (CANA).

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