Speech by Sharon Dijksma, Minister for the Environment, at the Climate session on civil aviation and maritime shipping during the joint Informal Transport and Environment Council meeting

This morning, Minister Sharon Dijksma addressed a unique joint meeting of EU Transport and Environment Ministers on the “greening” of aviation and shipping. Dijksma: ”The EU will need to work with all the member states of the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the International Maritime Organisation towards an ambitious, realistic approach at global level. An approach focusing on sustainable development that meets the challenges we face: to ensure economic growth and jobs, with competitive aviation and shipping sectors.”

Dear Commissioners, Members of the European Parliament, esteemed colleagues,

Today is a perfect opportunity and setting to follow up on Paris - and the Paris spirit - in meeting a major global challenge – the greening of aviation and shipping. How can we ensure effective measures for these sectors within ICAO and IMO? Which measures and initiatives present the most promising opportunities, in financial, economic and social terms? And let’s not forget to ask ourselves how we should work − not only with our allies, but also with countries and regions that aren’t so keen on our plans?

The Paris Agreement is an important milestone. In Paris, 195 countries committed to taking climate measures. A historic agreement and − in my opinion − a turning point. The question is no longer if but how we’re going to tackle climate change. And how we can ensure effective global agreements, including for aviation and shipping? This question is our starting point today.

It is now the responsibility of the international community to act on the Paris Agreement. From the point of view of quality of life and safety – and also from an economic viewpoint. To invest in sustainability is to invest in an economically dynamic future.

In order to make these investments more attractive we need to succeed in finding the right way to price CO2 emissions.

The Paris Agreement makes no specific reference to aviation and shipping. But it’s clear that the two sectors will have to make a major contribution.

Aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. By 2020 these emissions will have increased by 70 per cent on their 2005 levels – and by 2050 by between 300 and 700 per cent.

Shipping emissions are also expected to grow – by 2050 by between 50 and 250 per cent if policy doesn’t change.

Aviation and shipping are truly international sectors. So to succeed, we’ll need to take a global approach, taking account of each sector’s characteristics.

The EU will need to work with all the member states of the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the International Maritime Organisation towards an ambitious, realistic approach at global level. An approach focusing on sustainable development that meets the challenges we face: to ensure economic growth and jobs, with competitive aviation and shipping sectors.

A realistic approach that’s in line with the agreements we reached in Paris. This also means building bridges to the rest of the world in order to reach global agreements.

The ICAO aims for carbon neutral growth from 2020 and an agreement on a global market-based mechanism at the Assembly in October. The aviation industry fully endorses these aims.

At the next session of the ICAO Assembly, Europe should reach out to other regions of the world to achieve a truly global mechanism. Because that’s what’s urgently needed – a global mechanism to tackle greenhouse gas emissions in the aviation sector.

The mechanism will also have to be market-based. This ensures that measures will be taken where they are the most cost-effective. The mechanism that is being prepared is based on offsets. This means that an increase in emissions in one sector can be compensated in another. Together, this will lead to a global carbon price.

It’s crucial for us to continue working with countries like the US, Canada and Japan. At the same time, we will only reach an agreement by securing the support of countries that are until now reluctant and critical.

Some significant steps have also been taken within the IMO. With the Energy Efficiency Design Index, new ships will have to improve their energy efficiency by 30 per cent in three steps between 2013 and 2025. And don’t forget that shipping is already by far the most efficient means of transport, carrying 90 per cent of the world’s goods.

The aim is to reach agreement next week on a data collection system, so that measures can be considered for existing ships, based on facts and figures. The OECD countries are playing a prominent role here, with support from industry.

There are many examples of how both aviation and shipping are making sustainable investments and applying green innovations. Like vessels  powered by  LNG, the development of clean, fuel-efficient engines, innovative propulsions systems and world ports like Rotterdam that encourage sustainable enterprise by charging lower port fees for cleaner ships.

In the aviation sector, we are seeing the development of fuel-efficient aircraft, cleaner fuels like biokerosene and smart, sustainable flying. And there are airports like Schiphol that give priority to sustainability in their management. A lot is already possible. And if we make sure that emissions by the global aviation and shipping sectors are priced, innovations like these will become more attractive.

Let’s move to the two most important questions we’ll be discussing today as addressed in the Presidency paper:

  • As transport and environment ministers, how can we best work together to further reduce global emissions in aviation and shipping, while safeguarding competitiveness, economic growth and jobs?
  • And how can the EU contribute constructively to the ongoing debates within the ICAO and IMO, while ensuring that concrete steps are taken to meet the Paris goals?

I call on you today to act on the momentum generated in Paris. Let’s work together as the EU, and as transport and environment ministers, and with international organisations and the market to take constructive, concrete steps towards sustainable aviation and shipping. Not just because we have to, but because there’s so much we can achieve!

I’d now like to hand over to my colleague, our chair, Melanie Schultz van Haegen

Thank you.