‘Modest progress’ made on decarbonising shipping sector

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has adopted a seven step plan towards decarbonising the shipping industry following pressure exerted by a coalition of Pacific countries.

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Photo: 123rf.com

But while their proposal for the shipping sector to adopt climate targets in line with the Paris Agreement gained overwhelming expressions of support, the IMO said a consensus was not reached between more than 170 member nations.

It said at last week’s London meeting, China and India voiced strong support for alternative low carbon fuels, while European nations joined the Pacific in highlighting the urgent need for sector action.

However a number of countries including Brazil and Chile were concerned about potentially negative impacts of carbon reduction measures.

The IMO’s director of shipping Bill Hemmings said political differences prevented substantive progress despite a strong delegation of Pacific Island nations vulnerable to climate change calling for an ambitious reduction target.

“A sense of urgency was lacking and hopes have again been deferred to the next meeting being held in October nearly two years after the Paris Agreement,” said Mr Hemmings.

Mike Halferty, the Marshall Islands minister for transport, said while only modest progress had been made there was large support for the vision of emissions reductions from the sector.

“For the Marshall Islands … that means decarbonisation of the sector by 2050. It is clear that much more rapid progress will need to be made at the second working group in October in order to deliver the initial strategy by 2018.”

Solomon Islands ambassador to Europe, Moses Mose, said he was encouraged that many countries shared the Pacific’s interests.

“We must seize on this opportunity to produce tangible progress so that IMO has something credible to report to COP 24 in 2018,” said Mr Mose.

The IMO said the seven-step plan will form the basis of its first attempt to tackle climate change, 20 years after first being requested to do so under the Kyoto Protocol.

It said it was aiming to deliver an interim climate deal for shipping in 2018, with a comprehensive plan scheduled for 2023

The IMO said shipping accounts for two to three percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but a UN study predicted trade growth could swell its carbon footprint 50 – 250 percent by 2050.

It said the International Energy Agency rated the IMO as “not on track” to meet its sector’s fair share of CO2 cuts needed to limit global warming to below two degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The seven-stage outcome is as follows: 1 – emission scenarios, 2 – vision, 3 – ambition, 4 – candidate measures to achieve cuts, 5 – research and development / capacity building, 6 – periodic reviews, 7 – follow-ups ahead of 2023 revised strategy.

ICS Commits Shipping to Ambitious CO2 Reduction Objectives

At its AGM in Istanbul, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) agreed to urge the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to adopt some dramatic CO2 reduction objectives – on behalf of the international shipping sector as a whole – in order to match the ambition of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
In a submission to IMO Member States, being made in conjunction with other shipping organisations, ICS will propose that IMO should adopt three Aspirational Objectives:

• To maintain international shipping’s annual total CO2 emissions below 2008 levels

• To reduce CO2 emissions per tonne-km, 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

Esben Poulsson

Speaking in Istanbul, ICS Chairman, Esben Poulsson, commented:

“It is very important that IMO sends a clear and unambiguous signal to the global community that shipping’s regulators have agreed some ambitious objectives, with numbers and dates, for reducing the sector’s CO2 emissions, in the same way that land-based activity is now covered by government commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

ICS wants IMO to remain in control of additional measures to address CO2 reduction by ships and to develop a global solution, rather than risk the danger of market-distorting measures at national or regional level.

“Shipping has a very good story to tell about reducing CO2 but this is difficult to convey so long as there is no clear signal from IMO as to what our collective CO2 reduction objectives should be”, said Mr Poulsson.

ICS will suggest that IMO should adopt these objectives as part of the initial IMO CO2 reduction strategy to be agreed in 2018, following the adoption of an IMO Roadmap at the request of the industry in 2016.

Importantly, acknowledging concerns of developing nations about the possible impacts of CO2 reduction for trade and sustainable development, ICS emphasises that any objectives adopted by IMO must not imply any commitment to place a binding cap on the sector’s total CO2 emissions or on the CO2 emissions of individual ships.

“Dramatic CO2 reductions alongside increasing trade can only be achieved with the development of alternative fossil-free fuels – something which needs to be identified by the IMO strategy” Mr Poulsson emphasised.

He added “The long term future of the industry, like the rest of the world economy, must eventually be fossil fuel free. The trajectory for getting there, not least the development of alternative fuels, could well take us several decades. But this will only be achieved if the industry itself pushes for the adoption by IMO of some suitability ambitious objectives so that all concerned are under no illusion about the scale of the task ahead.”

The ICS AGM in Istanbul was hosted by the Turkish Chamber of Shipping from 9-11 May.

Esben Poulsson (Singapore) was elected ICS Chairman in 2016. For 2017-2018 he will be supported by the following Vice Chairmen: John Adams (Bahamas), Emanuele Grimaldi (Italy), Mark Martecchini (Liberia) and Karin Orsel (Netherlands).

According to the 2014 IMO GHG Study, international shipping emitted 921 million tonnes of CO2 in 2008. As a result of technical and operational measures, this figure declined by 13% to less than 800 million tonnes of CO2 in 2012 or 2.2% of the world’s total CO2 emissions. In the absence of additional CO2 reduction measures however, total CO2 from international shipping is currently projected by IMO to increase above 2008 levels due to additional demand for maritime transport.
ICS is the principal global trade association for shipowners. Its member national shipowners’ associations, from 37 nations, cover all sectors and trades and over 80% of the world merchant fleet.
ICS (together with BIMCO, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO) will be making a joint submission on behalf of the global shipping industry to the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee, which meets during the first week of July, preceded by a week-long Intersessional Working Group which will begin the development of an IMO strategy for reducing CO2 from shipping.
International shipping (and international aviation) is not covered by the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) committed by governments as part of the UNFCCC Paris Agreement adopted in 2015. Under the UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol, the mandate for addressing CO2 from shipping remains with IMO until 2020.
Source: ICS