The global shipping and air industries were granted a symbolic reprieve from the global drive to reduce carbon emissions last week, since they were cut from a new draft UN climate change pact being negotiated in Paris.
As nearly 200 nations attempt make a breakthrough global deal to slow the rise in world temperatures, the reference to two of the world's fastest-growing emitters appeared to be one of the first significant changes in an agreement still riddled with much bigger, more contentious issues.
A previous draft had included an optional paragraph, now omitted that would have singled out the two sectors and encouraged nations to curb their carbon output "with a view to agreeing concrete measures addressing these emissions."
Shipping giant Maersk, a proponent of carbon regulation in shipping, has invested heavily in more fuel-efficient vessels, which cut its energy costs and also reduce emissions.
"We do think it is in the long-term interest of the shipping industry to be regulated but that it should also be fair," said John Kornerup Bang, lead advisor on climate change with Denmark's Maersk Group. "It must be global, flag neutral and managed by the IMO. Otherwise, it won’t work."
Shipping and aviation make up around 5 percent of
global emissions but their contribution is predicted to grow significantly if left unchecked. The European Commission estimates that air and marine transportation could contribute as much as a third of all emissions by 2050.
"I don't know who got it out but we are fighting for it to be put back in," EU Energy and Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete told Reuters. He said not having shipping and aviation in the new text was a "a step backwards."
Peter Hinchliffe, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, warned that it wasn't over yet, with negotiators heading into all-night sessions attempting to agree on a final deal by the weekend.
"It is still early days yet," he said. "The discussion is far from over and I am sure that Europe will have at last one more go at inclusion."