Framework for carbon pricing further away than before Cancun

Transport is responsible for 23 percent of global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion

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Jack Short, Secretary General of the International Transport Forum, the transport think tank at the OECD in Paris, believes that the agreement reached in Cancún will not increase pressure on the transport sector to reduce its CO2 emissions.

Transport is responsible for 23 percent of global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.

“The Cancun Agreements decided at COP 16 may have given new impetus to a stalled UN negotiating process but will have no direct impact on continued global growth of transport CO2 emissions,” said Short.

He said that despite conciliatory moves in the final hours of the conference, it now seems less likely that countries will be able to agree an extension of the Kyoto Protocol or an alternative, wider-ranging international treaty on Greenhouse Gas emissions reductions by 2012.

“This means that political pressure to reduce emissions in the transport sector will probably not increase over the next few years. In some cases it may indeed wane. In practice, carbon constraints will likely not become a defining factor for transport policy for several more years.”

Crucially, he added, lack of progress in Cancún and the postponement of emission trading schemes in the U.S. and Australia means they are moving away from setting an international framework for pricing carbon. For international shipping and aviation that are contemplating global market-based measures, this will translate into an increase in the cost of “decarbonization.”

Finally, noted Short current emission trajectories and the uncertain prospect for real emission reduction efforts after the Kyoto Treaty expires also highlight the heightened risk to transport infrastructure and networks from climate disruption.

On lessons for transport that can be drawn from Cancún, Short said:

“The first lesson is that countries should re-center their efforts on carbon reduction policies that have value for society beyond CO2 mitigation alone. This means focusing on policies that deliver strong co- benefits such as congestion reduction, enhanced energy security, pollutant reduction and fuel cost savings.”

The second lesson, Short added, is that prospects for significantly reducing emissions and avoiding disruptive climate change have not improved.

“Transport must now ready itself to adapt itself to a changing climate.”

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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