The shipping industry has agreed on a climate pledge to reduce pollution from global warming to net zero “by or about” 2050. While the agreement, published Friday, marks increased climate ambition from a hugely polluting industry, experts criticized the deal as hopelessly inadequate in the face of an escalating climate crisis.
The shipping industry, which carries more than 80% of the world’s traded goods, produces about 3% of all the planet’s man-made pollution from the fossil fuels it uses to propel ships across the ocean.
But so far, the industry has not committed to reaching net zero — which would mean removing at least as much planet-warming pollution from the atmosphere as it emits.
That changed Friday, when the International Maritime Organization, the UN body that regulates global shipping, released a new climate strategy after days of negotiations between the organization’s 175 member states.
In the new agreement – the IMO’s 2023 strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ships – the countries agreed that shipping would reach net zero “by or around, i.e. by 2050”, depending on “national circumstances “.
The plan also includes interim commitments under the heading of “indicative checkpoints”, where countries aim to reduce shipping-related pollution from shipping by at least 20% by 2030 and by 70% by 2040 compared to 2008 levels. document also refers to “going” targets of a 30% reduction by 2030 and an 80% reduction by 2040.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said in a statement that the new climate strategy provides “clear direction, a common vision and ambitious targets”.
Industry groups welcomed the deal. In a statement, Simon Bennett, Deputy Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping, said: “This week’s agreement is historic for our industry and sends a very strong message that the maritime sector is serious about achieving net zero and tackling dangerous climate change in accordance with the Paris Agreement.”
Some Pacific countries celebrated the adoption of new targets.
“These higher goals are the result of relentless, relentless lobbying by ambitious Pacific islands, against the odds,” Albon Ishoda, presidential special envoy for decarbonising maritime shipping from the Marshall Islands, said in a statement.
“This outcome is far from perfect, but countries around the world came together and made it happen,” Ralph Regenvanu, a politician from Vanuatu, said in a statement.
However, many climate groups have been highly critical of what they see as a toothless plan and a missed opportunity.
Some countries and climate experts had called for much more ambitious targets, including a commitment to reduce global warming pollution by 50% by 2030 and almost completely by 2040.
John Maggs, the chairman of the Clean Shipping Coalition, criticized the “vague and noncommittal language” in the new climate strategy. “There is no excuse for this wish and prayer agreement. They knew what the science needed, and that a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 was both possible and affordable,” he said in a statement.
Faïg Abbasov, of the non-profit Transport & Environment, said the agreement was a missed opportunity. “This week’s climate talks were like rearranging the lounge chairs on a sinking ship. The IMO had the opportunity to set an unambiguous and clear course towards the 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature target, but all it came up with was a weak compromise,” he said in a statement.
In the Paris Climate Agreement, countries promised to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees – and preferably to 1.5 degrees – compared to pre-industrial temperatures. Scientists consider 1.5 degrees of warming to be an important threshold, above which the likelihood of extreme floods, droughts, wildfires and food shortages could increase dramatically.
IMO’s Lim said the strategy marked a “new chapter” for the shipping industry, but added: “At the same time, it is not the end goal, in many ways it is a starting point for work that will continue to grow over time. must be intensified years and decades ahead.”
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