IMO greenhouse gas emissions

ICS Urges Governments to See Through Major Climate Deal for International Shipping

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April 6, 2018

Photo: By Eric Gevaert / Shutterstock

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the trade association representing the interests of the world’s national shipowner associations at the International Maritime Organization, says it is satisfied with the progress made by governments on a draft greenhouse gas reduction strategy for international shipping.

The strategy has been composed over three sessions of an IMO-appointed Intersessional Working Group tasked with developing an initial GHG Strategy for reducing CO2 emissions from ships. The third and final session, which was held this week in London, was expected to produce a finalized draft to be submitted to the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) for adoption during its session next week.

Global shipping accounts for about 2 percent of the world’s total CO2 emissions, but the industry was omitted from the Paris climate accord leaving it up to the IMO, the agency of the United Nations that regulates international shipping, to come up with a plan to reduce GHG emissions from ships.

“What IMO has been attempting to negotiate is a Paris Agreement for the shipping industry. The enormous political challenges involved really cannot be exaggerated,” commented ICS Deputy Secretary General, Simon Bennett, at the conclusion of the working group meeting held this week.

“But the goals now tentatively agreed by most governments for short-term efficiency improvement, and for midcentury GHG reduction by the sector as whole, should be sufficiently ambitious to provide the signal needed to stimulate the development of zero CO2 fuels, so we can collectively get on with the job of eliminating green house gas emissions from shipping as soon as possible,” Bennet added. 

In a statement, the ICS says it is optimistic that those flag states which control the vast majority of the world’s merchant shipping tonnage will support the high level of ambition which is now proposed, provided that other nations, such as the United States, do not actively seek to derail an agreement during the discussions at the MEPC next week.

‘The industry is very impressed by the willingness of governments on all sides of the debate to cooperate and compromise,” Mr Bennett added. “This includes those developing nations with valid concerns about the potential impact on trade and sustainable development.

“While some further fine tuning of the strategy will be required by the MEPC, it’s vital that those governments who are serious about helping shipping to reduce its CO2 remain loyal to the carefully crafted political package that has now been negotiated and that they refrain so far as possible from reopening major substantive issues – unless they wish to risk unravelling what will be a very significant climate deal covering a major industrial sector that moves around 90 percent of global trade,” Bennet said. 

According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, the total CO2 emissions from international shipping were about 8 percent lower in 2015 than in 2008, despite a 30 percent increase in maritime trade.

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) represents the worlds’ national shipowners’ associations, whose membership covers over 80% of the world merchant fleet.

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