Carbon pricing of emissions from international transport is in limbo. There has been no meaningful progress on such approach, also referred to as a Market Based Measure (MBM), recently. The upcoming UN Climate Change Summit 2014 provides an opportunity to catalyze international action on climate change.
The triennial Assembly of ICAO in 2013 failed to agree a global MBM for international aviation. Subsequently, under pressure from other countries, Europe has constrained its legislation for Emission Trading Scheme in aviation to only flights within European Economic Community.
The topic of MBM for international shipping was not discussed at the IMO at its environment session in 2014 at all, and neither during its previous session in 2013, when the topic had been postponed to “a future” session.
The upcoming 38th ICAO Assembly is likely to agree a narrow scope for any regional carbon pricing of emissions from international aviation. The draft resolution on the issue proposes to limit any such regulation to national airspace of participating countries till a global regime is in place (i.e. by 2020, or longer). This would mean only circa 20% coverage of emissions from extra-European flights, as shown. This may be further limited by exempting flights to and from many developing countries. Together with the other low-ambition elements, the outcome of over 15 years of discussions may be bizarre:
Increasing mitigation and financing ambitions through action on international transport was the topic of our side event at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, June 2013. See the Presentation (1 MB) and the new RM Aviation Fact Sheet (1.3 MB). The presentation was focused on international aviation and included new maps for: (1) international aviation carbon footprint (concentrated in North, as shown), and (2) potential burden of aviation carbon pricing (which, as % of GDP, would be the largest in South). Application of the Rebate Mechanism (RM) to address the disproportional burden on some of the poorest countries was presented and debated.
After previous failures in 2011 and 2012, late night negotiations on CBDR at the IMO were successful. MEPC 65 finalized, and adopted by acclamation, an MEPC Resolution on Promotion of Technical Co-operation and Transfer of Technology relating to the Improvement of Energy Efficiency of Ships (the Resolution). The key issue that divided the Parties was addressed by a reference to "being cognizant of principles enshrined in" the IMO and the UNFCCC conventions. Further discussions of Market Based Measures (MBMs) were held back, again, and suspended to a future session.
There was no progress on international transport at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 18 / CMP 8 at Doha, Qatar. No decision was taken on addressing emissions from international aviation and maritime transport, and no specific reference was made to innovative financing from them. Sectoral approaches, including emissions from international transport, were one of the many issues discussed at the Conference, but proved to be an area in which the positions of the major developed and developing countries were too distant to find a compromise.
Once more working late at night did not help the IMO MEPC 64 to achieve further progress on reducing shipping emissions in autumn 2012, following a similar attempt earlier in the year. MEPC 64 aimed, but failed again, to agree and adopt a Resolution on promotion of technical co-operation and transfer of technology relating to the improvement of energy efficiency of ships. Further discussions of Market Based Measures (MBMs) continue to be held back, pending the adoption of the Resolution.
Working late at night did not help the IMO MEPC 63 to achieve further progress on reducing shipping emissions in early 2012. Two objectives were planned in this area: (1) to adopt a resolution on Technical Co-operation and Transfer of Technology relating to the improvement of energy efficiency of ships, and (2) to launch an impact assessment of the proposed Market Based Measures (MBMs), particularly on developing countries. Neither of these objectives were reached.
There was no material progress on addressing emissions from international aviation and maritime transport at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 17 / CMP 7 at Durban. The Parties only agreed to continued consideration of issues related to these emissions, and there was no direct reference to innovative financing arising from international transport (but compromise options were proposed ...).
At the same time, arguably, significant progress was made in Durban through the agreement to negotiate a global deal applicable to all countries!