ICS: Shipping Industry Remains Committed to Reducing CO2 Emissions

President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change will have no impact on the shipping industry’s commitment to reduce its CO2 emissions, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said Monday.

With the United Nations Ocean Conference opening today in New York, the ICS is preparing to explain to the high-level conference, organized by the UN General Assembly, that the global shipping industry remains fully committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goal for the protection of the world’s oceans.

Speaking at a session on the prevention of ocean acidification, ICS will present some ambitious ‘aspirational objectives’ on CO2 reduction which the industry – responsible for moving about 90% of global trade – wants the IMO, as the industry’s global regulator, to adopt on behalf of the international shipping sector, in the same way that governments under the Paris Agreement have adopted CO2 reduction commitments on behalf of their national economies.

The industry has proposed that the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) should agree an objective of keeping total CO2 emissions from the shipping sector below 2008 levels and then cut annual total CO2 emissions from the sector by 2050, by a percentage to be agreed by IMO.

The ICS notes that this is in addition to an existing industry commitment to cut CO2 emissions per tonne of cargo carried one kilometer by 50% by 2050, compared to 2008.

“Shipping, because of its great size, is currently responsible for about 2.2% of annual anthropogenic CO2 emissions,” says ICS Director of Policy, Simon Bennett, as he prepares speak before the world’s governments attending the UN Ocean Conference. “According to IMO, shipping has reduced its total CO2 emissions by more than 13% between 2008 and 2012, despite increased maritime trade, but there is a perception that shipping, whose emissions cannot be attributed to individual nations, may have somehow ‘escaped’ the Paris Agreement,” added Bennet, referring to shipping’s exclusion from the final text of the Agreement. 

Shipping’s exclusion has left the responsibility to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the global sector square on the shoulders of the IMO.  

Later this month, the IMO is set to open the first of a series of meetings to develop a strategy for further reducing CO2 from ships, in order to match the ambition of the Paris Agreement. The industry has proposed that IMO should adopt some ambitious aspirational objectives on behalf of the international shipping sector as a whole.

The shipping industry has made these proposals to the next session of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee, which meets in London at the end of June.

Throughout the UN Ocean Conference, ICS will also make a case for shipping’s impressive environmental performance and its role as a driver of ‘green growth’. In addition to reducing CO2, the industry is committed to the implementation in 2020 of the global cap on the sulphur content of marine fuel, at an anticipated collective cost of around US$ 100 billion per year.

ICS will also press for government regulators to give equal priority to each of the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – identified by the UN.

ICS argues that understanding the importance of economic factors in achieving sustainable development is especially important in view of shipping’s role in the continuing spread of global prosperity and the movement of about 90% of trade in goods, energy and raw materials.

Speaking at an IMO side event at the UN in New York, Bennett went on to explain that “the shipping industry is committed to the delivery of further environmental improvements in the interests of sustainable development. But sustainable development requires a global shipping industry that is economically sustainable too.”