BONN, Germany, May 19, 2016 (ENS) – International shipping and aviation will have to cap their greenhouse gas emissions soon for the world to meet the ambitious goals in the Paris Climate Agreement, participants at a side event at the Bonn climate change conference heard today.

This week and next in Bonn, climate negotiators from around the world are working out the details of implementation, science and technology to help governments fulfill their obligations under the Paris agreement.

The side event, “Aviation and Shipping: What Has Paris Changed?” was organized by the European Climate Foundation.


A Fedex plane departs the Cologne/Bonn Airport bound for Memphis, Tennessee, July 2015 (Photo by Lars Steffens)

Emissions of carbon dioxide from aviation and shipping are growing at a combined rate of three to five percent annually. Efforts by the United Nations bodies overseeing these sectors to agree and adopt strategies to address climate change have advanced but critical action areas still must be fully addressed, panelists in the session said.

There is “recognition that all countries need to tackle emissions from international transport,” said Martin Cames, head of energy and climate at Öko-Institut. “Setting a target is key … and targets need to be reviewed and periodically strengthened.”

In December 2015, countries under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, adopted the Paris Climate Agreement, pledging to take on increasingly ambitious targets aimed at peaking and then reducing greenhouse gas emissions to keep the average global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius or limit it to a safer 1.5 rise above pre-industrial levels.

Shipping and aviation are not directly included in the Paris Agreement.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, and International Maritime Organization, IMO, have the challenge of reducing global emissions from their own sectors.

Kelsey Perlman, a policy officer at the nonprofit Carbon Market Watch, said that at ICAO’s high level meeting in Montreal last week, delegates were divided over how to proceed with market-based measures to help the sector meet its aspiration of climate neutral growth from 2020.

On the positive side, she reported the inclusion of more robust wording in the latest draft documents, acknowledging the need for environmental integrity of any such market measure, and referring to the Paris Agreement directly.


The MS Noordam weighs anchor and starts another engine on departure from Half Moon Cay, Little San Salvador, Bahamas. (Photo by Michael Elleray)

Meanwhile, emissions of carbon dioxide from shipping are projected to increase by 50 to 250 percent by 2050, and “could torpedo Paris ambition,” said John Maggs, senior policy officer with the nonprofit Seas at Risk. “What’s needed is a steep, steady drop in emissions from 2020.”

Hydrogen-fueled cars are on display at the Bonn conference as part of a demonstration to show that clean transport technologies are available today and, if scaled up quickly, can help governments achieve their goals under the Paris agreement.

During the Bonn conference, governments are looking at economic sectors with the highest potential to curb emissions, and transport is one focus area.

Salaheddine Mezouar, Morocco’s foreign minister and incoming president of the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech (COP22), along with the UN’s top climate change official Christiana Figueres, test-drove hydrogen cars provided by the Clean Energy Partnership, an international consortium of 20 companies working together to jointly scale up the technology, co-funded by the German government.

“I believe that electro-mobility is the only way to make the transport sector emissions free, so hydrogen-cars are a big contribution towards the objective of the UN to achieve climate neutrality,” said Claudia Fried, spokesperson for the Clean Energy Partnership.

“We are in a phase in which we can see the technology works and is ready to be applied,” said Fried. “We need the gas industry, because they know how to produce hydrogen, we need the mineral oil industry because they have the fueling stations and we need the car manufacturers who know how to build the fuel cells.”

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