Aviation and shipping have ‘untapped opportunities’ to grow while reducing GHGs: Report

Reading time: 3 minutes
10 September 2015

LONDON: We already have the technology today to reduce carbon emissions from the aviation and shipping industries, but without a dramatic acceleration of this technology the two sectors will account for a third of all CO2 emissions by 2050.

These findings come from a just-published working paper called Raising ambition to reduce international aviation and maritime emissions from The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, a major international initiative to analyze and communicate risks and opportunities of climate action which is a founding partner of the We Mean Business coalition along with The Climate Group.

Today the maritime and aviation sectors account for about 5% of global emissions, but are forecast to constitute between 10% and 32% in 35 years. Yet the report warns there are still “untapped opportunities” for the two sectors in terms of saving both costs and emissions.

Aviation company American Airlines has invested more than US$300 million in fuel-saving measures since 2005, which has led to a saving in fuel costs of about US$1.5 billion. To date, the most fuel-efficient US airlines are already 27% more efficient than the worst. And in the sector as a whole, for every ton of jet-fuel saved, 3.16 tons of CO2 emissions are avoided.

Similarly, the most fuel-efficient oil tankers are five times more efficient than the worst. It is clear there is huge potential for companies and society to save resources, emissions and money.

However, such emissions are not regulated under the incoming climate talks in Paris later this year, the report warns.

Two UN agencies – the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) – are working to improve these activities. To date, ICAO has committed to cap net emissions at 2020 levels, while IMO has set design efficiency standards for new ships that are expected to save an average of US$200 billion in annual fuel costs by 2030.

Still, the progress in such areas has been slow, states the report, and is not enough to keep the global emissions under the 2 degrees Celsius pathway – the internationally agreed threshold to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change.

The report suggests implementing market-based measures, global emission reduction targets and promoting fuel savings to help reduce annual greenhouse emissions by 0.6–0.9 gigatons CO2 equivalent by 2030.

Authors also conclude that greater energy efficiency measures in shipping can double the size of the sector while the associated CO2 emissions still decrease. Improved infrastructure, more sustainable fuels and international cooperation in particular are just some of the ways the sector can further grow and generate jobs while reducing emissions.


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