March 2014 Update on Emissions from Aviation and Maritime Transport

ICAO-IMO24 March 2014: The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have both taken up issues related to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fuel used for international aviation and maritime transport. This update provides an overview of recent progress made by these two organizations on this topic, and outlines issues to be addressed at future meetings.

ICAO's 38th Assembly met on 13 October 2013, and adopted a resolution on climate change that summarizes the Organization's progress and challenges in addressing emissions from civil aviation. In Resolution A38-18, the ICAO Assembly agreed on, among other things, three elements related to GHG emissions. First, the Assembly resolves that States and relevant organizations will work through ICAO to achieve a global annual average fuel efficiency improvement of 2% until 2020 and an aspirational global fuel efficiency improvement rate of 2% per annum from 2021-2050. Second, the Assembly requested the ICAO Council to develop a global carbon dioxide certification standard for aircraft, with a view to adoption by Council in 2016. This standard aims to reduce aircraft carbon dioxide emissions through fuel-efficient technologies in aircraft design. Third, the Assembly agreed to further its support for member States' action plans to reduce aviation emissions through capacity building and assistance.

The 38th Assembly also addressed market based measures, which was the source of difficult and protracted debate among member States. Paragraph 19(d) of Resolution A38-18 suggests a general roadmap of work to the 39th Assembly in 2016. Member States requested the Council to identify problems with, and corresponding recommendations for, market based measures. The Assembly also requested the Council to identify the “mechanisms for the implementation of the scheme from 2020 as part of a basket of measures.” Furthermore, the Annex of Resolution A38-18 includes guiding principles for the design and implementation of market based measures. For the coming year, the remaining technical work includes addressing environmental and economic impacts and possible options for a market based measure scheme. 

On emissions from maritime transport, IMO member States addressed issues related to GHG emissions under its Martine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC). Over the past few months, the Committee focused on technical and operational measures relating to energy efficiency for ships. In particular, the Committee addressed the development of technical and operational energy efficiency regulations under the new chapter 4 of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI, which entered into force on 1 January 2013. This chapter includes requirements for new ships under the Energy Efficiency Design Index and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan.

In addition to these regulations, IMO has also been working on energy efficiency developments through research and capacity building. The 65th session of the Committee adopted resolution MEPC.229(65) on promoting technical cooperation and transfer of technology relating to energy efficiency of ships. The MEPC also approved the terms of reference to initiate a study to update emissions estimates for international shipping. Despite these areas of progress, the MEPC was unable to reach agreement on the issue of market based measures for international shipping. Member States thus agreed to suspend discussions on this issue until future sessions. The 66th Session of the MEPC will meet from 31 March - 4 April 2014, to consider, inter alia, technical and operational measures for enhancing energy efficiency of international shipping and reducing GHG emissions from ships.

This 'Update on Emissions from Aviation and Maritime Transport,' a new feature of Sustainable Energy Policy & Practice and of Climate Change Policy & Practice, will provide a regular overview of international developments as they relate to the regulation of bunker fuels. [MEPC 66 Webpage] [ICAO States' Action Plan Seminar for the South American Region][ICAO States' Action Plan Seminar for the North American, Central American and Caribbean Region][IISD RS Story on MEPC 65] [IISD RS Story on ICAO 38th Assembly]