Low expectations of progress on international aviation emissions agreement in Cancun despite industry push
Opening ceremony of COP16/CMP6 in Cancún, Mexico
Tue 30 Nov 2010 – In keeping with the general mood of pessimism surrounding the UNFCCC’s COP 16 session in Cancún, Mexico, which got underway yesterday, little progress is expected in negotiations on international aviation and shipping emissions (‘bunker fuels’). Negotiating text under consideration remains heavily ‘square-bracketed’. However, representatives from both the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and a large team from the aviation industry will be in attendance to encourage the process forward. Today, ICAO and the industry are expected to hold separate side events, with ICAO Council President Roberto Kobeh González and Jane Hupe, Chief of ICAO’s Environment Branch, due to make session addresses. In a submission presented to the UNFCCC SBSTA body, ICAO has expressed concern over proposals by a UN-appointed advisory group that aviation could provide a substantial contribution towards climate change financing.
In a statement released on the eve of COP 16, ICAO said the “remarkable achievements” of international civil aviation in addressing climate change and the shift in approach from policy setting to implementation would be the focus of its participation during the two-week event. ICAO is presenting the climate change resolution (A37-19) adopted at its Assembly on 8 October, which it says makes international aviation the first sector with a shared global commitment to environmental goals of increasing fuel efficiency and stabilizing its global CO2 emissions in the medium term.
Included in the Assembly resolution are a global aspirational goal of 2% annual fuel efficiency improvement up to 2050; the development of a CO2 standard for new aircraft by 2013; a framework for market-based measures; and concrete steps to assist States to contribute to the global efforts.
However, the resolution also “recognizes that the aspirational goal of 2% annual fuel efficiency improvement is unlikely to deliver the level of reduction necessary to stabilize and then reduce aviation’s absolute emissions contribution to climate change, and that goals of more ambition will need to be considered to deliver a sustainable path for aviation.”
Setting “goals of more ambition”, such as a medium-term carbon-neutral growth target, has proved to be a major stumbling block over the differing responsibilities of developed and developing states in reducing their aviation emissions, particularly concerning the use of market-based measures (MBMs). Attempts by developing countries to enforce a ‘mutual consent’ stipulation on the use of MBMs during the ICAO Assembly failed, but remains in UNFCCC negotiating text, albeit in square brackets.
Emissions from international aviation and marine bunker fuels are due to be discussed by the 13th Session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA). However, there is no certainty this will take place given that previous discussions at COP 15 in Copenhagen became bogged down on procedural issues. (Relevant negotiating text on the table at present is republished at the end of this article.)
The ICAO Assembly resolution has been submitted in a statement by ICAO to the 33rd Session of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). SBSTA serves as a link between information and assessments provided by expert sources (such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - IPCC) and the Conference of the Parties (COP), which focuses on policy.
Included in the statement is an expression of concern over proposals made by the High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing (AGF), set up by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and tasked to identify potential sources of revenue to meet a goal of mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries cope with the impact of climate change. The AGF concluded that significant funding could come from a levy on airline tickets, a tax on aviation fuel or a global aviation emissions trading scheme (see article).
In its submission, ICAO says the international aviation sector should not be singled out as a source of revenues for all other sectors.
“This is likely to result in a shortage of resources to facilitate mitigation activities by the international aviation sector itself, and in a disproportionate contribution of resources from this sector as compared to other economic sectors,” reads the statement. “Furthermore, such action could hinder further progress of the globally-harmonized agreement that was adopted by the ICAO Assembly.”
The AGF report is due to be presented during COP 16, but as it was not commissioned as part of the UNFCCC process it may well be sidelined for now.
Although it has not been confirmed, ICAO Council President Kobeh mentioned during the Assad Kotaite Lecture of the Royal Aeronautical Society in Montreal last week the possibility of a flight taking place over Cancún during COP 16 of an aircraft powered by alternative fuel.
55. [Agrees that the limitation [and][or] reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol from [aviation and marine bunker fuels][international aviation and maritime transport] should be pursued working through the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization, respectively,[ in accordance with the principles and customary practices of ICAO / IMO][ taking into account the principles and provisions of the Convention,][ as applicable][ through the use of potential revenues][[ setting global emissions targets] on a scale consistent with the long- term global [temperature] goal defined in section A on a shared vision for long-term cooperative action][ of ten per cent and twenty per cent respectively below 2005 levels in 2020 for international aviation and maritime transport. The use of market-based mechanisms may contribute towards achieving these targets. Activities, policy approaches and measures established by the ICAO and the IMO should neither lead to competitive distortions nor carbon leakage and should be approved by 20XX.]
Alternative 1 to paragraph 55:
[Developed country Parties shall pursue limitation or reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol from aviation and maritime bunker fuels, working through the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization, respectively, in accordance with the principles and provisions of the Convention, in particular the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities [and respective capabilities]. Cooperative sectoral approaches in the international transport sector should enhance implementation of Article 4, paragraph 1 (c), of the Convention.]
Alternative 2 to paragraph 55:
[[Parties included in Annex I][Developed country Parties] should pursue limitation or reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol from aviation and marine bunker fuels, working through the ICAO and the IMO, respectively].
55 bis. [Encourages the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization to carry out their work in accordance with their respective Conventions and customary practices, taking into account applicable principles and provisions of the Framework Convention on Climate Change].
55 ter. [Any measures taken by developed country Parties through ICAO and IMO to reduce emissions from those sectors shall be taken on the basis of mutual consent of all Parties involved.]
55 quater. [Requests the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization to ensure that the majority of any revenues arising from the implementation of such policy approaches and measures shall be made available to support climate change adaptation and mitigation [within the respective sectors] in developing countries, in particular small island developing states and least developed countries[ as well as other vulnerable developing country Parties with coastal areas, tropical and mountainous glaciers and fragile ecosystems][, provided always that adequate revenues arising from the implementation of such policy approaches and measures shall be made available to support the respective aeronautical and maritime sectors in developing countries, so as to offset impacts on trade following for the transfer of levies to those sectors]].
56. [Agrees to invite these organizations to report to the Conference of the Parties at its seventeenth session, and to its subsidiary bodies, as appropriate, and at regular intervals thereafter, on relevant activities, policy approaches and measures established and under development, emission estimates and achievements in this respect.][These reports should also include an explanation of how activities, policy approaches and measures taken by these organizations adhere to with the principles of the Convention and Kyoto Protocol, in particular the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities [and respective capabilities.]]
Alternative 1 to paragraph 56:
[Agrees to invite these organizations to continue reporting to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice on relevant activities in this respect.]
Alternative 2 to paragraph 56:
[Agrees to invite these organizations to report to the Conference of the Parties, at its [XX][ seventeenth] session, and to its subsidiary bodies, as appropriate, and at regular intervals thereafter, on relevant activities, policy approaches and measures, relevant to paragraph 55 bis. above.]