September 22, 2023

Countries agree to reduce shipping emissions, but not enough to stay within warming limits

Maritime nations on Friday agreed to cut shipping industry emissions to net zero by about 2050 in a deal that several experts and countries say falls short of what is needed to curb warming to agreed temperature limits.

Countries at the United Nations International Maritime Organization meeting in London, seen as key to curbing global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times, signed an agreement to reach net-zero emissions from shipping “by or around” 2050. The less hard deadline was agreed to take into account “different national circumstances”.

The plan also calls for cutting emissions from shipping by at least 20% but aiming for 30% by 2030 and at least 70% but aiming for 80% by 2040, despite a push from Pacific countries – supported by Canada, the United States and the United States. UK — for more ambitious targets. Experts calculate that the industry needs to cut its emissions by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to stay on track with the 1.5°C target.

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said on Friday that the deal “is in many ways a starting point for work that needs to be intensified in the coming years and decades.”

“With the revised strategy you now agree on, we have a clear direction, a common vision and ambitious goals to guide us to deliver what the world expects of us,” Lim told Member States.

The German government welcomed the agreement, calling it “an important milestone in ensuring that international shipping makes a fair contribution to achieving the temperature targets of the Paris Agreement.”

Transport Ministry spokesman Florian Druckenthaner said Germany had “lobbied massively” for the goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

Asked by The Associated Press whether Germany feels bound by the new targets, despite the interim targets being “indicative”, Druckenthaner said they are targets “that we support and share”.

Ajithkumar Sukumaran, one of India’s representatives at the talks, said the country was “happy with the outcome but remains concerned about the extent to which the spirit of this statement will materialize, particularly to ensure that developing countries are not affected by these emissions targets.”

Sukumaran called on the IMO to introduce mechanisms to assess whether the objectives of the deal are actually being implemented.

Environmentalists are unhappy with the deal, as it does not set 2050 as a hard date for net-zero emissions or to stay in line with the warming limit set by the Paris accord.

“There is a clear divergence between the targets (of the IMO) and those of the crucial 1.5C target of the Paris Agreement – ​​a divergence we cannot afford,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International.

An analysis suggests that both the less and more ambitious interim targets would see the shipping industry exceed its carbon budget — a calculation of how much carbon dioxide different industries and countries could emit before global warming limits are breached — by early of the next decade.

“We don’t have time to wait for regulations or alternative fuels to catch up,” Diane Gilpin, founder and CEO of Smart Green Shipping, said in a press statement. “We have to act quickly and work with what we have.”

According to the IMO, shipping is currently responsible for almost 3% of greenhouse gas emissions. A European Parliament report warned that the share could increase dramatically by 2050 if steps are not taken to reduce the sector’s dependence on fossil fuels.

A decision on introducing a shipping tax on carbon emissions to help pay for investments in cleaner fuels and technologies and to support developing countries’ green ambitions has been postponed.

Simon Bennett, deputy secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, which represents 80% of the world’s commercial fleet, said the group “greatly welcomes the ambitious agreement” but urged the IMO to agree with the Group’s proposal for a voluntary tax on emissions.

Bennett said a levy would create a market for cleaner fuels that are currently not scalable or too expensive for the industry.

Some environmentalists support the idea of ​​a levy, but say the ICS proposal hinders more ambitious ideas.

The IMO targets are reviewed every five years. The previous target was that shipping should reduce its emissions by at least half between 2008 and 2050.


Associated Press writer Frank Jordans contributed from Berlin.


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