In December of 2015, the United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Paris, signaling a significant move forward in minimizing the negative impact of the transport industry on the environment. The 2015 meeting was the 21st such Conference of Parties, for which the event is also called “COP-21.”
The main goal of the Climate Change Conference is to limit the effects of global warming to within 2 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels, a number that was amended to 1.5 degrees at the conference.
The Paris Climate Talks included leaders from more than 190 countries, climate change representatives, and professionals from throughout the transport and logistics sector. As of this writing, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which established the Conference of Parties, stands at 197 members or “parties.”
The Conference of Parties grew out of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit in which the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted. While the 1992 adoption of the UNFCCC treaty garnered sweeping support, it did not set any enforceable limits on greenhouse gases, but rather established a framework for such limits in the future, particularly as they relate to international treaties.
The 2015 Conference of Parties sought to address the lack of established emission limits by implementing legally enforceable standards on a global scale. The long-term aim of the plan is to set a precedent for the reduction of greenhouse gases, both in the transport industry and worldwide.
Naturally, the ambitious goals of the conference have very close ties to the transport and logistics industry: the sector contributes to more than 20% of worldwide CO2 emissions. In order to meet the expectations of the long-term goal, the industry will need to reach zero emissions by the year 2050, according to some estimations.
Towards A New Direction: The Paris Climate Agreement
Previous attempts at worldwide regulation of emissions–even those that came out of the 1992 Rio Earth Day Summit–had largely been voluntary efforts with no real legal teeth. In spite of the widespread support of member countries, the regulations to this point had largely centered around a future commitment, rather than one to be implemented with a clear timetable.
The Paris Agreement has changed that, even going so far as to ramp up emission reduction goals to meet newly established standards. Previous attempts at such measures, such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Copenhagen UN Climate Summit, rallied tremendous support but were criticized by some for their lack legal accountability and legal enforceability.
The Paris Agreement puts some of those measures in place, though full implementation doesn’t occur until 2020; a timeframe which some see as too little too late. It should be noted that individual countries did submit non-binding plans for emissions reduction prior to the 2015 meeting.
These are some of the main points that came out of the 2015 Climate Change that were instituted as part of the Paris Agreement:
- Governments will meet every five years with the goal of setting more specific goals based on scientific data. There is a meeting planned for 2018, but the first official meeting under the agreement will take place in 2023.
- Transparency will be emphasized, including a public account of the progress being made toward established environmental goals.
- Provide support to developing countries in meeting global clean energy standards.
- Established a goal of a 1.5-degree increase in atmospheric temperatures, as compared to the prior target of 2 degrees. Currently, the atmospheric temperature has increased 1 degree above pre-industrial levels.
More information about the key takeaways from the Paris Agreement can be found by clicking here.
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SmartWay Program & Green Freight Action Plan
So what does this all mean for the transport industry? In short, it signals an industry shift toward a more efficient use and regulation of fossil fuels. This goal serves a twofold purpose of not only streamlining the delivery of goods around the world, but also reducing the environmental impact of these delivery systems.
As early as 2004, the transport industry had already begun taking steps in this direction with the institution of the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program. The program helps those in the transport industry by working to reduce CO2 emissions and greenhouse gases, as well as recognizing those partners who have done a good job of it. (A-1 Auto Transport is a member!)
One way in which the SmartWay program has moved the industry forward is by updating their truck carrier tool, which is used to improve oversight of the industry. The most recent update followed the COP-21 and members are included on the basis of submitting an updated truck carrier tool.
In 2014, the Global Green Freight Action Plan was introduced, which aimed to raise awareness and share resources between organizations working toward the goal of reducing emissions. The Global Green Freight Action Plan is particularly focused on black carbon in the transport industry.
In light of the recent developments from the 2015 conference, it’s safe to say that the transport industry is moving swiftly in the right direction, though there is still much work to be done. We won’t know until 2020, when the Paris Agreement is in full swing, whether the far-reaching goals of the agreement will be achieved, and how quickly we’ll be able to accomplish them on a global scale.
A-1 Auto Transport is a proud member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Program, signaling our commitment to minimizing harmful emissions and greenhouse gases in the transport industry. We’re happy to answer your questions about car shipping or the auto transport industry, either at the number at the top of this page, or through our online contact form!
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