Global limit agreed for greenhouse gas emissions from shipping

Elias Hubbard
April 16, 2018

This confirms IMO's commitment to reducing GHG emissions from global shipping and, as a matter of urgency, to phasing them out as soon as possible.

More specifically, under the identified "levels of ambition", the initial strategy envisages for the first time a reduction in total GHG emissions from global 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 aviation sector reached an emissions plan two years ago but shipping has taken longer because its reliance on long-distance ships that run on bunker fuel makes it harder to cut carbon.

"The IMO's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 100 per cent in 2050 is major progress", Tristan Smith, Reader in Energy and Shipping with the UCL Energy Institute, said in a statement, reported news agency IANS.

Shipping now accounts for around 2.5 percent of global GHG emissions, but this is expected to rise steeply, so that by 2050 it will account for 16 percent of the total carbon budget agreed by the 2015 Paris climate deal, believed to be what's required to keep global temperature rises below 1.5C.

Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russian Federation also aired concerns with the proposal, such as suggesting an absolute cap on GHG emissions, but all agreed with the implementation of the initial strategy.

Commenting on the agreement, IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim said the strategy "is designed as a strong statement addressed to the outside world and, as a platform, will pave the way forward for future work related to reduction of GHG emissions from ships".

Global limit agreed for greenhouse gas emissions from shipping
Global limit agreed for greenhouse gas emissions from shipping

The commissioners said: "While the European Union had sought a higher level of ambition, this [strategy] is a good starting point that will allow for further review and improvements over time..."

"Even with the lowest level of ambition, the shipping industry will require rapid technological changes to produce zero-emission ships, moving from fossil fuels, to a combination of electricity (batteries), renewable fuels derived from hydrogen, and potentially bioenergy", he said.

"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.

"The IMO must move swiftly to introduce measures that will cut emissions deeply and quickly in the short-term".

The agreed-upon strategy referred to "a pathway of Carbon dioxide emissions reduction consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals".

A final IMO plan is not expected until 2023.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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