Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 21, 2015

Contact: Vera Pardee, (858) 717-1448,

U.S. Climate Negotiators Urged to Support Airplane, Ship Pollution Cuts During Paris Negotiations

19 Conservation Organizations Want Aircraft, Shipping Held Accountable to
Help Prevent Catastrophic Global Warming

WASHINGTON— Nineteen conservation organizations representing millions of members today urged the U.S. negotiating team heading to the Paris climate summit in December 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 “combined emissions from these sectors already have a climate impact similar to that of Germany or South Korea.”

Language addressing aviation and shipping emissions abruptly disappeared from the negotiating text that will shape the final international climate agreement, but was restored this week during treaty negotiations in Bonn, Germany. Negotiators hope to produce an agreement that will help keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius.

“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.”

The letter was signed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Sustainable Economy, the Clean Air Task Force, the Climate Law & Policy Project, Climate Solutions, the Earth Day Network, Earthjustice, the Energy Action Coalition, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, Friends of the Earth U.S., GreenLatinos, Kyoto USA, the National Wildlife Federation, Oxfam, the Sierra Club, the Southern Oregon Climate Action Now, SustainUS, the World Wildlife Fund and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Aviation’s impacts account for some 5 percent of global warming. If aviation were considered a country, it would rank seventh after Germany in terms of carbon emissions. Shipping adds about another 3 percent. Both sources are projected to grow rapidly, with aviation emissions set to more than triple by 2050 and shipping emissions to rise by as much as 250 percent.

Reducing greenhouse gas pollution from aviation and shipping has been the responsibility of the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization since 1997. But in the past 18 years, the aviation organization has not adopted any measure to curb aircraft-induced global warming, rejecting, in turn, efficiency standards, fuel taxes, emissions charges and global emissions trading. And the secretary general of the maritime organization has rejected any need to cap shipping emissions.

“U.S. negotiators can’t allow the Paris summit to hand out special pollution privileges to the aviation and shipping industries,” said Pardee. “Holding these industries responsible for helping to meet the global goal of preventing catastrophic warming is both fair and utterly necessary.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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