27 March 2018

International Shipping Lobby Calls for Governments to Compromise on Greenhouse Gas Emissions  

Alignment Essential for International Maritime Organization to Maintain Credibility

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Shipping News Feature UK – WORLDWIDE – With the International Maritime Organization (IMO) due to meet on April 3 to discuss pollution issues the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) says that governments must compromise to help IMO agree an ambitious strategy for the further reduction of CO2 emissions by shipping that will match the expectations of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The IMO holds its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions discussions at the next session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) April 9 - 13 and this is preceded by the third inter-sessional meeting, ISWG-GHG 3 (instructed on the basis of the work of ISWG GHG 2), to finalise the draft initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships.

In a briefing note to its member national shipowners’ associations, ICS suggests that if IMO was to set an initial objective of cutting the sector’s total CO2 emissions by, for example, 50%, rather than 70 to 100%, this would still require a major improvement in ship efficiency over ‘business as usual’. When account is taken of the anticipated growth in maritime trade, ICS says this would still only be possible with the widespread use of zero CO2 fuels.

ICS Chairman, Esben Poulsson has stated that Governments on all sides of the debate need to show far more willingness to compromise on their current positions or put at risk an agreement on a meaningful strategy. He believes that failure to do this would greatly undermine the authority of IMO and the future sustainability of the shipping industry. He continued:

“Agreement upon a mid-century objective for the total reduction of CO2 emissions by the sector, regardless of trade growth, will be vital to discourage unilateral action and to provide the signal needed to stimulate the development of zero CO2 fuels” Mr Poulsson added. “But the very high level of ambition proposed by certain EU Member States, a 70 to 100% total cut in emissions before 2050, is unlikely to achieve consensus support.

“While ICS does not fully agree with them in every respect, alternative proposals made by China and Japan merit serious consideration and could form the basis of a possible compromise. China in particular seems to have made a real effort to move away from its previous opposition to establishing CO2 reduction goals for the sector’s total emissions. If EU nations want a global agreement they should acknowledge this by similarly modifying their own positions.

“A mid-century objective similar to that proposed by Japan, which might also enjoy support from nations like China if EU nations were willing to compromise, would still provide a compelling signal to the industry. This should also be sufficient to stimulate the development of zero CO2 fuels leading to a 100% CO2 reduction in line with the ambitious vision which IMO must agree.”

The ICS and other industry associations have previously proposed the need for an ambitious vision in the IMO strategy, making it clear that the ultimate goal is the elimination of all CO2 emissions from international shipping (i.e. 100% reduction) sometime between 2050 and 2100, or as soon as the worldwide availability of zero CO2 fuels makes this possible. In advance of zero CO2 fuels becoming available globally, the industry has also proposed that IMO should adopt the following three objectives:

  • To maintain international shipping’s annual total CO2 emissions below 2008 levels
  • To reduce CO2 emissions per tonne-kilometre, as an average across international shipping, by at least 50% by 2050, compared to 2008
  • To reduce international shipping's total annual CO2 emissions by an agreed percentage by 2050, compared to 2008, as a point on a continuing trajectory of CO2 emissions reduction

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