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27th Jan 2022

EU steps up pressure for maritime emissions deal

  • Talks on curbing maritime carbon emissions have been ongoing for years (Photo: albir)

EU member states have stepped up pressure for an international agreement to curb emissions from the maritime and aviation sectors, stressing that a system of carbon pricing for ships and planes would help capitalise a $100 billion climate fund.

EU finance ministers meeting in Brussels on Tuesday (17 May) said securing the $100 billion per year by 2020 would be "challenging but feasible", after developed countries signed up to the commitment at international climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, late last year.

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Where the money, destined to help developing countries fight climate change, will come from still remains unclear, however.

While Europe has implemented an emissions trading system for heavy industry within its own borders, the bloc has become increasingly frustrated by the slow pace of discussions within the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

In the meeting's conclusions, EU finance ministers highlighted that: "Carbon pricing of global aviation and maritime transportation have the potential to generate large financial flows."

"Further work is needed in IMO and ICAO to develop without delay a global policy framework that avoids competitive distortions or carbon leakage," added the ministers.

EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard also recently vented her frustration at the slow pace of negotiations on curbing carbon emissions from the maritime sector, stressing that the EU would not wait forever.

"Since 1997, IMO has had this task [of reaching an agreement], without delivering, and that's why we are very clearly signalling we are losing patience," she said last month.

The EU plans to include the aviation sector in its emissions trading system (ETS) from 2012 onwards, although both the US and China are unhappy with EU plans to include foreign aviation firms as well as their EU counterparts, setting the scene for a series of legal challenges.

In their conclusions, the EU finance ministers also stressed their belief that private sector financing must make up an important contribution to the $100 billion fund, a major bone of contention with several NGOs.

"Developed states are moving to escape from their commitments by increasingly putting the emphasis on private sector contributions," Lies Craeynest of Oxfam International told EUobserver.

"We think the $100 billion should be largely made up of public money."

The ministers also stressed that climate payments in the coming years will "depend on climate actions taken in developing countries."

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