After years of stagnation in climate policy for transport, there have been a number of important developments over the last twelve months. Notably, policymakers have begun to get to grips with gas guzzling cars, through fuel efficiency standards agreed in Europe and the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />US. Thus, recognition has grown that if we are ever to tackle the climate crisis, we must tackle transport emissions. But the tide is far from being turned. In particular, international aviation and shipping accounting for nearly 10% of the climate problem have been left unchecked and are growing faster than all other modes. On the road to Copenhagen, it is imperative that close attention is paid to a future strategy for these sectors.

International shipping emits 870 million tonnes of CO2 each year. That's more than total emissions from countries like the UK or Canada. Shipping emissions have grown by more than 85% since 1990, the base year of the Kyoto Protocol. Aviation contributes 4.9% to climate change and emits over 730 million tonnes of CO2 every year. The lion's share is from international aviation, which emits more than France or Australia. These emissions have grown by well over 45% since 1990. Left unmitigated, emissions from aviation and shipping will double or triple by 2050, forming by then a very significant proportion of a global carbon budget consistent with keeping warming below 2° C.

In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol gave responsibility for these emissions to developed countries working through the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Both UN Agencies have failed to agree even one single binding measure to control greenhouse gas emissions in the ensuing 12 years.  It's an appalling record.

The climate deal to be agreed in Copenhagen must control emissions from all sources if it is to protect the climate. That means including international transport within the overall carbon budget

The UNFCCC could take the necessary action in two ways:

- By including emissions in national totals, purely as an accounting measure.
- By setting targets for the two sectors, and mandating IMO and ICAO to develop and agree on global sectoral policies within a limited timeframe and subject to UNFCCC review.

T&E believes international transport policies should be mandatory and global, or near global.

Global approaches are the most environmentally robust and avoid so-called 'leakage'. Furthermore, the sectors are inherently global in nature. The principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) could still be respected if revenues raised by global policies (levied mostly on well off consumers) were spent on climate protection in developing countries. And perhaps most important in real life politics: Policies could raise tens of billions of dollars, giving a real boost to efforts to finance a comprehensive climate mitigation deal.

A good number of ideas for including emissions from international aviation and shipping in the global climate framework have been proposed, but so far not agreed. These approaches could raise substantial revenue for adaptation and low-carbon development:


- Emissions Trading, proposed by Norway, Germany, France and others. Full auctioning of allowances could raise up to $25 billion annually
- A levy on marine bunker fuel, proposed by Denmark, could raise $8-12 billion annually.


- An International Air Passenger Adaptation Levy (IAPAL), proposed by the Maldives on behalf of the Least Developed Countries, could raise around $10 billion annually.
- Emissions Trading, proposed by a global group of international airlines. No figures specified, but full auctioning of allowances could raise up to $15 billion annually.

Sectoral policies applied globally and featuring 'compensation differentiation' offer a real possibility to break the deadlock because revenues would be spent in developing countries. Although some conditions will surround these countries' participation, none should be a dealbreaker:
- negative impacts should be avoided or compensated. In any case, impacts are likely to be small: studies show the price of shipped goods would rise by well below 1% even if all shipping emissions attracted a carbon price of $30 per tonne. Nonetheless, minimum thresholds could be developed to exempt the most remote countries.
- The IAPAL proposal is supported by many states reliant on tourism. They understand that the impact on tourism will be outweighed by the revenues generated. Even so, exemptions could serve to reassure the most vulnerable countries.
- Alternatively, some revenues could be earmarked to compensate for any food price increases, or for economic diversification of tourism-dependent economies.

Reliable, transparent mechanisms are needed to channel revenues to developing countries. This means an international body should collect the revenue, and pay it directly to funds managed under the UNFCCC. Alternatively, national governments should earmark revenues for climate protection.

Without assurances from developed countries that mitigation revenues will be managed internationally, developing countries will not have a sufficient guarantee of access to the funds and are unlikely to participate in global schemes, thereby perpetuating the deadlock.

But if these conditions could all be applied, a solution is there for the taking. Climate policymakers meeting in Copenhagen must see that waiting another twelve years is simply not an option. It is time to get international transport within the overall carbon budget.

About T&E:

The European Federation for Transport and Environment "T&E" is an independent pan-European not for profit association. Established in 1990, T&E has grown to become the principal environmental organization working on sustainable transport at the EU level in Brussels. Our work is supported by 46 member organizations working to promote an environmentally sound approach to transport across Europe.