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Nations demand climate plan from air, maritime industries

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Jan 16, 2009
Representatives of 20 nations and the European Union called Friday on the air and maritime industries to act on global warming and address carbon emissions from the unregulated sector by year-end.

Transport ministers and envoys from the nations, including the Group of Eight major economies, held two days of talks in Tokyo as part of efforts to meet a goal of drafting a new climate change treaty by December.

In a joint statement, the nations said that while transport was "an important foundation of our society" it was responsible for "considerable emissions of carbon dioxide," affecting the climate and public health.

"Urgent actions are required to address these issues while ensuring sustainable development," the statement said.

They called on the International Maritime Organisation to "deliver a package of appropriate mechanisms for reducing emissions, preferably by the end of 2009."

The countries also said they would support the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to come up with technology, standards and market-based measures by the end of the year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The aviation industry group had agreed in 2007 to come up with ways to reduce the environmental impact of airplanes.

But ICAO chief Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez, speaking afterwards to reporters, said he did not expect moves to slap a carbon tax on airlines to force them to curb emissions.

The transport industry has been badly hit by the global economic crisis, with fewer people taking to the air, shipping merchandise or buying new cars.

Antonio Tajani, the European commissioner for transport, said the Tokyo declaration was "a very important signal of our common strategy for sustainable development."

"We have to build a type of economic growth that does not put at risk health or the environment," Tajani told AFP.

Transport accounts for some 23 percent of carbon emissions blamed for global warming, more than any other sector other than electricity generation and indoor heating, according to the International Energy Agency.

Nations have been imposing stricter standards on automobile emissions. But the Kyoto Protocol makes no demands of the airline and shipping industries due to their international nature.

A conference in December in Copenhagen is set to approve a new climate treaty for the period after 2012, when Kyoto's obligations on emission cuts expire.

The Tokyo conference included ministers or officials from the Group of Eight and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, along with Australia, India and South Korea. China was invited but did not come, while ASEAN member Malaysia took part as an observer as a senior official could not attend.

Japan's transport minister, Kazuyoshi Kaneko, said it was "regrettable" that China did not take part but said its absence "did not prevent a fruitful discussion."

Asked why China did not attend, Kaneko said Beijing "had wanted for there to be more consideration for developing countries."

China, which by some estimates has surpassed the United States as the world's top polluter, last week unveiled a major bailout for its troubled aviation industry.

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Cathay defers completion of new cargo terminal due to downturn
Hong Kong (AFP) Jan 15, 2009
Cathay Pacific said Thursday it had sought approval from the Airport Authority to defer the completion of its new cargo terminal to mid-2013 at the latest due to the economic downturn.

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