Five far-reaching agreements signed during the Dutch EU Presidency
During the Dutch EU Presidency a number of agreements and deals were signed. They cover a variety of areas and vary in geographical scope. Five of the most engaging are presented below.
Greener aviation and shipping
What can the EU do to achieve effective global measures that will reduce CO2 emissions in the aviation and shipping sectors? On 15 April, at the informal meeting of the Transport and Environment Council in Amsterdam, ministers discussed how the aviation and shipping sectors can help fulfil commitments made at the Paris climate conference.
Paris climate agreement
At the 2015 Paris climate conference (COP21) 195 countries voted to approve a new, binding climate agreement. Under the agreement, countries must reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to well below 2°C, with 1.5°C as the target.
The aviation sector is one of the fasting growing sources of greenhouse gases. By 2020 emissions are expected to increase by 70% in comparison to 2005. With the shipping sector also expected to grow, CO2 emissions will also increase if no additional measures are taken. In order to achieve the targets set out in the climate agreement, these sectors must take action.
Growth, employment and competition
The EU wants to take an ambitious but realistic approach to CO2 emissions from aviation and shipping. The approach must also be global in scope. In light of this, the EU is working together with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The European ministers explored the following questions at the meeting:
- How can we ensure effective measures within the ICAO and IMO?
- What measures will contribute to economic growth, employment and competitive shipping and aviation sectors?
- And how can we work with allies and find common ground with countries that have different views?
Carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onwards
The ICAO is aiming for growth to be carbon-neutral from 2020 onwards. It has the full backing of the aviation industry in this regard. To combat greenhouse gas emissions, the EU is focusing on CO2 standards for aeroplanes and an agreement on a global market mechanism at the ICAO General Assembly this autumn. There is a pressing need for such a mechanism. The market mechanism currently being prepared by the ICAO is based on offsets. This allows the aviation sector to offset emissions outside its own sector, and thereby achieve climate-neutral growth. This mechanism is to ensure that parties take the most cost-effective measures.
Facts and figures to inform discussions
Ninety per cent of all the world’s products are transported by ship. It is the most efficient mode of transport. Under the new standards being introduced by the IMO, the energy efficiency of new ships must be improved by a further 30%, in three stages between 2015 and 2025. But more is needed in order to achieve the targets set in Paris. EU ministers first want to agree on a new data collection system. This will provide the IMO with facts and figures that can inform discussions on additional measures.
Four more agreements
Apart from emissions, agreements were signed on military cooperation, international rail freight, wind farms, and trade of raw materials obtained from waste.