Sunday, May 22, 2016

After Paris, a Move to Rein In Emissions by Ships and Planes - by Fred Pearce

As the world moves to slash CO2 emissions, the shipping and aviation sectors have managed to remain on the sidelines.  But the pressure is now on these two major polluting industries to start controlling their emissions at last.

Jet Takes Off (Credit: Artyom Anikeev/Shutterstock) Click to Enlarge.
In the global effort to reduce carbon emissions, the aviation and shipping industries have been the most conspicuous outliers.  Although these two sectors currently contribute 6 percent of all manmade CO2 emissions, they have managed to remain outside international control. 

But in the wake of the historic United Nations climate agreement reached in Paris in December, the pressure is finally on to rein in these two big freeloaders. 

International aviation and shipping emissions were excluded from the Paris pact, which introduced limits on greenhouse gas emissions for all nations starting in 2020.  With power generation, manufacturing, domestic transport, deforestation, and even changes in land use all now constrained, calls are growing for these two big sectors to be tamed as well. 

Aviation and shipping each emit roughly the same volume of CO2 annually as the U.K. or Germany, and unlike the emissions of those two countries, their greenhouse gases continue to rise dramatically.  Between 1990 and 2010, their contributions to the accumulation of planet-warming CO2 in the atmosphere rose by an average 3 percent a year, three times faster than overall global CO2 emissions. 

According to a study by University College London’s Energy Institute, aviation and shipping are on target to increase their contributions to overall CO2 emissions from today’s 6 percent to 40 percent by 2050, even as emissions from other sectors are slashed. 

By the end of the year, the U.N. agencies charged with controlling aviation and shipping will decide whether to cap their emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.  If they cannot, then calls by scientists, activists, and climate negotiators for the decisions to be taken out of the industries’ hands will intensify.

Read more at After Paris, a Move to Rein In Emissions by Ships and Planes

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