Paris high ambition countries call for urgent action on aviation emissions and a robust global carbon scheme
High Ambition Coalition leaders at Paris COP21
Mon 19 Sept 2016 – Members of the High Ambition Coalition, which played a pivotal role in the successful outcome of the global climate negotiations last December that resulted in the Paris Agreement, have joined forces to call for urgent action to curb the growth of emissions from the aviation sector. Representing both the developed and developing world, Mexico, the Marshall Islands and the European Union have issued a joint statement saying it was “time for us to make history again” and for countries to work to secure an ambitious and robust global market-based measure (GMBM) at the forthcoming ICAO 39th Assembly. It was crucial there was a broad participation of countries in the scheme, they said, and the widest possible emissions coverage. However, another key member of the Coalition in Paris, Brazil, has indicated it is unlikely to join the voluntary phase of the scheme (2021-2026) as it did not produce enough emissions to justify doing so.
The statement by the three High Ambition Coalition members, which was signed by EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc and EU Commissioner for Climate Action & Energy Miguel Aria Cañete on behalf of the European Union, said in order to meet temperature limits set in Paris and the long-term goal to reach net zero emissions in the second half of the century, action must be taken to curb aviation emissions.
“In order for us now to achieve ‘our Paris vision’, we need to ensure we all fully play our part, including every country and every sector,” they said. “We are now at a critical moment and, for the first time, we can secure a global sectorial deal for aviation.”
To ensure the scheme met its objective of carbon-neutral growth from 2020, they called for States, particularly those with major aviation sectors, to participate in the scheme from the beginning, “and to declare their intention to opt in as soon as possible, and no later than the Assembly.”
Other requirements for the scheme’s design, they said, should include a robust review mechanism that would adapt ambition in line with wider climate objectives and the Paris long-term temperature goals, and the use of carbon offsets with environmental integrity, the supply if which could come from the least developed countries. To ensure a fair agreement, routes to and from countries with a very small share of global emissions should be exempted, a provision already in the draft Assembly text. These are classified as Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Land-locked Developing Countries (LLDCs).
Under this criterion, the Marshall Islands, a Pacific Island state at threat from rising seas levels, would be entitled to a permanent exemption as a SID state throughout the intended 15-year duration of the ICAO scheme. However, the country’s Minister for Transport, Mike Halferty, said in a statement: “Provided ICAO adopts an ambitious resolution guaranteeing environmental integrity and ensures there is a mechanism to regularly review and ramp up ambition, the Marshall Islands intends to be involved from the beginning.
“It is critical others now follow our lead and pledge to join the new scheme from the start, particularly those which can help ensure the greatest coverage in emissions. There is no point in having a patchwork of ambition. The very survival of our country depends on this.”
According to a report in Climate Home, the President of the Marshall Islands, Hilda Heine, believes other Pacific Islands may support the ICAO scheme from the beginning.
The republic’s former Foreign Minister and now Ambassador for Climate Change, Tony de Brum, was an architect of the High Ambition Coalition and is a strong campaigner for action on aviation and shipping emissions.
However, it appears that Brazil, a member of the High Ambition Coalition in Paris, will not join the scheme in the voluntary phase. Although the country is one of the world’s fastest growing aviation markets, Bloomberg reports the Director of the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC), Ricardo Fenelon Jr, as saying it does not produce enough emissions to justify participating. Other developing countries should follow Brazil’s lead, he advised.
China has signalled its intention to join the scheme, but with Brazil seemingly not opting in from the start, there will be a focus on the intentions of the other BRICS members – Russia, India and South Africa. Although far from being the biggest in international aviation traffic terms, the loss of both Russia and India from the voluntary phase would be a blow for the scheme. Brazil and South Africa are also important and growing markets, as well as regional leaders, points out Dan Rutherford of the International Council for Clean Transportation (ICCT).
If the top 20 countries by international traffic all opted in to the scheme and other 171 smaller ICAO Member States did not, ICCT estimates around 60% of traffic growth would be covered. Rutherford says key countries that are required to reach this coverage and have yet to declare – in addition to Russia and India – are UAE, Qatar, South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Australia (see graph below).
(source: ICCT analysis of 2016 OAG data and ICAO 2013 growth projections)
Update September 20:
Japan has today indicated its intention to participate in the GMBM.
Update September 23:
The ICAO website reports Malaysia, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates have also now indicated that they intend to join the voluntary phase from 2021. New Zealand's Transport Ministry has also announced today they will participate in the voluntary phase, “provided other developed countries and the majority of major aviation states also agree to do so.” This brings the total number of countries volunteering to join the CORSIA scheme from the start to 56.