Aviation and maritime transport in a post-2012 climate policy regime

This study reports on possible ways to bypass the current deadlock in negotiations on international climate policies for aviation and maritime emissions. It concludes that a number of viable ways do indeed exist.

The main line of reasoning that this report takes is that:

  • In order to be acceptable to a large number of countries, commitments in any climate policy regime need to be differentiated with regard to economic development: rich countries should do more than poor countries.
  • The Multi-Stage Approach is a good way to achieve intercountry differentiation: countries gradually take on more stringent commitments as their economies become more developed.
  • The main economic benefit that countries derive from transport is their access to other economies. It is therefore logical to differentiate commitments on a route basis. All other types of differentiation would suffer from serious distortions of competitive markets, which would reduce the environmental effectiveness.
  • This differentiation can be achieved either by allocating emissions to countries or by means of sectoral, open emissions trading with differentiated treatment of routes.
  • Stacked policies and measures are a good way to balance the demands for global policy regimes for these global industries with the need for differentiation of commitments.

Ever since the emergence of a global climate policy regime, incorporation of the greenhouse gas emissions of international transport has posed a problem. As a result, emissions from aviation and maritime transport have not been included in the targets under the Kyoto protocol. Instead, the protocol urges developed countries to reduce these emissions through the UN bodies ICAO and IMO. However, in the decade that has elapsed since the protocol was drafted, hardly any progress has been made.

Following the above line of reasoning, three viable routes for international climate policy regimes for international transport have been derived. First, a regime could be based on the current Kyoto architecture with allocation of responsibility to countries. Second, a sectoral approach could be applied. Third, regional policies could be designed such as to effectively reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of international transport without gravely distorting the competitive market.