Final draft negotiating text for Paris climate summit reinserts "unambitious" reference to international aviation

Final draft negotiating text for Paris climate summit reinserts "unambitious" reference to international aviation | COP21
Mon 26 Oct 2015 – References to international aviation and shipping have been reinserted into the latest draft negotiating text agreed at the final climate meeting of the UNFCCC in Bonn before COP21 begins at the end of next month in Paris. Text relating to the two sectors was included in a 86-page draft text that came out of talks held in Geneva in February (see article) but a slimmed-down version released earlier this month omitted the paragraphs entirely (see article). The new references are believed to have been inserted following pressure by the European Union and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). However, the earlier text that called for global sectoral emission reduction targets be set for the two sectors has been heavily watered down and merely calls on parties to “pursue limitation or reduction” of emissions, working through ICAO and IMO. Industry and ICAO will also be relieved that earlier text calling for a levy scheme be imposed to provide climate finance has not been included.


The new draft agreement now includes the following paragraph (19, page 12, International Transport Emissions):


“Option 1: Parties [shall][should][other] pursue limitation or reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation and marine bunker fuels, working through the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization, respectively, with a view to agreeing concrete measures addressing these emissions, including developing procedures for incorporating emissions from international aviation and marine bunker fuels into low-emission development strategies. Option 2: No text.” 


The Geneva text had two paragraphs (23 bis and 47.5) that stated:


“In meeting the 2°C objective, Parties agree on the need for global sectoral emission reduction targets for international aviation and maritime transport and on the need for all Parties to work through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to develop global policy frameworks to achieve these targets.”


“Encourages ICAO and IMO to develop a levy scheme to provide financial support for the Adaptation Fund” and both UN agencies “are encouraged to take into consideration the needs of developing countries, particularly the LDCs [Least Developed Countries], SIDS [Small Island Developing States] and countries in Africa heavily reliant on tourism and international transport of traded goods.”


The reinsertion of the two sectors into the final draft agreement was welcomed by environmental NGOs, which had lobbied strongly both before and during last week’s talks in Bonn. It is understood that as well as the LDCs wanting the text inserted, other developing countries had been persuaded to follow suit.


“The latest text is the result of developed and developing countries cooperating on this issue for the first time,” commented Bill Hemmings, Clean Shipping and Aviation Manager at Brussels-based Transport & Environment (T&E).


However, T&E said the draft lacked ambition and the language needed to be strengthened if the sectors’ growing climate impact was to be curbed.


“International aviation and shipping emissions are the elephants in the room for the UNFCCC,” said Hemmings. “The Paris Agreement must send a clear signal – not a passing reference – to the two UN bodies regulating these emissions that time is up and action is now due. The 2-degree global warming limit becomes next to impossible if Paris gives these sectors a free pass.”


Work continues at ICAO this week towards developing a framework on a global market-based measure based on carbon offsetting for international aviation emissions, with the two technical task force groups advising on monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) and carbon emission unit eligibility criteria meeting in Montreal.


After concerns that the slimmed-down version had little reference to carbon markets, the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) welcomed the addition of market provisions in the new draft text.


“IETA is particularly pleased to see a more robust section on mitigation that clarifies the market provisions,” said IETA International Policy Director, Jeff Swartz. “It now makes clear that countries can cooperate on markets with proper accounting of transfers, and it sets policy to avoid double-counting of emissions reductions.


“There are also several references to ‘international transferrable mitigation outcomes’, which is in line with what IETA has been proposing to governments for more than a year.”




UNFCCC – Draft Agreement as of October 23 (pdf)

Transport & Environment (T&E)

International Emissions Trading Association (IETA)



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