Global limit agreed for greenhouse gas emissions from shipping

IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim said the adoption of the strategy was another successful illustration of the renowned IMO spirit of cooperation

IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim said the adoption of the strategy was another successful illustration of the renowned IMO spirit of cooperation

More specifically, under the identified "levels of ambition", the initial strategy envisages for the first time a reduction in total GHG emissions from worldwide shipping which, it says, should peak as soon as possible and to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while, at the same time, pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely. "The world's shipping industry has now, for the first time, defined its commitment to tackle climate change, bringing it closer in-line with the Paris Agreement".

It says European Union nations and the Marshall Islands supported a goal of cutting emissions by between 70% and 100% by 2050 but this was opposed by the US, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Panama. These emissions should also be phased out "as soon as possible in this century".

Addressing the plenary, IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim stressed that, though the agreement may not be flawless, it sent a clear signal to the shipping industry.

UGS believes the solution is "a balanced political compromise and one that could be workable for the shipping industry".

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Over 170 countries reached an agreement on IMO's Green House Gas (GHG) strategy, adopted at the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 72) on 13 April, with a strong emphasis on scaling up action to phase out emissions completely. But the IMO Secretary General stressed that the agreement was only an initial strategy, a "starting point", with the final roadmap to be finalised by 2023.

Both shipping and aviation have remained outside worldwide negotiations like the 2015 Paris climate accord, and this is partly down to the difficulties with attributing these emissions to particular countries, and also the reluctance of both industries to submit to monitoring and data sharing. It also guarantees that the impact of any potential efforts to decarbonise the sector on developing countries will be taken into considered while adopting any measure. This strategy, which represents the first global climate framework for shipping, includes quantitative GHG reduction targets through 2050 and a list of candidate short-, mid-, and long-term policy measures to help achieve these targets.

Dr Tristan Smith, an energy and shipping reader at the UCL Energy Institute, said that the 2050 target is likely to be tightened even further in the future.

"What happens next is crucial", said John Maggs, president of the Clean Shipping Coalition and senior policy advisor at Seas At Risk, an umbrella organisation of environmental NGOs.

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