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What would a Paris climate deal mean for the shipping and aviation industries?

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Shipping and aviation, the two powerhouses of globalisation, bring trade, wealth and development to the remotest corners of the world. But in return they demand a hefty environmental price.

Aviation currently accounts for about two per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to its regulatory body, the International Civil Aviation Organistation (ICAO). Left unchecked, the ICAO estimates this figure could grow by almost 400 per cent by 2050. Meanwhile, international shipping similarly currently accounts for just over two per cent of global CO2 emissions and emissions are likely to grow anywhere from 50 per cent to 250 per cent by 2050, according to a UN-backed study released last year.

Regulation of these sectors has become something of a bureaucratic headache for climate negotiators. As international industries, they are not easily covered by national or regional decarbonisation policies, but nor are they covered under international climate agreements.
During the 1997 Kyoto summit, the issue of regulating shipping and aviation proved too much of a sticking point for negotiators, who opted to leave it out of the final agreement. Since then, regulation has been the responsibility of UN-backed industry bodies ICAO and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). However, progress has been slow. Since 1997 only a handful of measures have been introduced by ICAO or IMO to address the sectors’ emissions.

In shipping, new ship efficiency standards adopted in 2011 required all new vessels to meet the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), but new ships are already well exceeding the required standards. The IMO says it is also planning to develop a global data collection system to monitor ship emissions, with an announcement detailing how this system will work expected at the next assembly in 2016. However, it continues to resist calls for an overall emissions reductions target, most recently rejecting a proposal for an emissions cap made in May by the Marshall Islands.[...]


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