American conservation organisations take aim at shipping’s emissions ahead of Paris talks

Nineteen American conservation organisations have urged the US negotiating team heading to the UN-convened Paris climate summit which starts at the end of November to support international efforts to curb carbon pollution from airplanes and ships.

In a letter to Todd Stern, the State Department’s special envoy for climate change, the 19 groups stressed that including shipping and aviation in the international agreement is critical because, they claim: “[C]ombined emissions from these sectors already have a climate impact similar to that of Germany or South Korea.”

“Removing airplane and ship pollution from the negotiating text would undermine the Paris climate summit before it has even begun,” said Vera Pardee, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If these rapidly growing pollution sources are not included in the Paris agreement, other industrial sectors and countries must somehow make up the slack, and it will be even more difficult to prevent runaway global warming.”

Shipping is braced for a tough time in Paris. Ten days ago, the International Transport Forum came out in favour of a carbon tax for shipping and very swingeing goals for emission cuts in the coming decades. The ITF, a research arm of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said shipping should reduce carbon emissions by half over the next 35 years and entirely by 2080 with the International Maritime Organization taking the lead.

Among the measures ITF suggested was a carbon tax for shipping set at about $25 per tonne of CO2, the receipts of which could feed into the Green Climate Fund.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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