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Paris Climate Deal Needs Focus on Shipping and Aviation

Paris Climate Deal Needs Focus on Shipping and Aviation

This fall, from November 30 to December 11, Paris, France will host the United Nations Climate Change Conference, an international event where world leaders from 190 nations will meet to create a legally binding global agreement on climate change, all in an effort to shrink greenhouse gas emissions throughout the world. With the current obligations on greenhouse gas emissions expiring in 2020, this next meeting is expected to construct an agreement that will last for at least another 10 years after that.

Research by scientists point to the conclusion that if there is a continued rise in greenhouse gas emissions, the world will pass a point of no return, and global warming will be permanent, as well as catastrophic. That limit is thought to be a 2C degree rise in temperature above pre-industrial levels. If the world’s current emissions keep rising at their current growth rate, we can expect a 5C rise in temps. While a 3C degree difference doesn’t seem like very much, consider this: the difference in temperatures from the last ice age and today was about 5C. Little changes in temperature make for bigger changes in our world.

Shipping and aviation are two of the biggest greenhouse gas offenders. Shipping makes up 3% of world emissions which are expected to grow anywhere from 50% to 250% in the next 35 years. Aviation is responsible for emissions the size of Germany’s, and their rates are expected to triple by 2050. If these two emission giants continue growing along the same path, together they could make up a fourth of the “allowable emissions” that would keep global warming to that 2C mark. It seems that the entire economy is slowly but surely reducing their carbon emissions, but shipping and aviation are continuing to devour larger and larger portions of the global budget.

While some think these two global sectors need to be at the forefront of the talks of the Paris COP, their leaders are trying to hover under the radar. During a recent Paris air show, the head of the International Air Association (IATA), Tony Tyler, initialed an argument that the aviation sector be left out of the upcoming agreement. He believes that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations governing body for aviation, should be the one that decides on any future regulations for the sector. In a similar manner, the shipping industry is attempting to make the same case, asserting that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) should be the only group endeavoring to regulate them.

Both the shipping and aviation sectors have demonstrated that they have a great capacity to innovate, from the Freightliner Inspiration truck that can drive autonomously to the Solar Impulse, a plane fueled completely by solar power. This capacity for novel technology and advancements must be funneled into creating a future with less carbon emissions. Both industries need to be represented in the Paris meetings and need to work globally to reduce their carbon footprints.

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