Shipping Industry Unites to Propose Ambitious CO2 Reduction Objectives to IMO

ship emissions
Photo: IMO

Four prominent international trade associations have banded together in issuing a joint proposal to the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) concerning ambitious CO2 reductions by the international shipping sector, which is responsible for transporting about 90% of global trade and 2.2% of the world’s annual man-made CO2 emissions. 

The four associations issuing the joint statement include BIMCO, INTERCARGO, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and INTERTANKO. 

The IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee will meet in London this July to start developing a strategy for reducing CO2 emissions from the sector, aligning international shipping’s response to the 2015 Paris Agreement’s call for ambitious contributions to combat climate change. International shipping is not included in the Agreement. 

In a detailed submission to the IMO, the industry bodies have proposed that IMO Member States immediately adopt two Aspirational Objectives on behalf of the international shipping sector. o maintain international shipping’s annual total CO2 emissions below 2008 levels; and

The first, to maintain international shipping’s annual total CO2 emissions below 2008 levels. And second, to reduce CO2 emissions per tonne of cargo transported one kilometer, as an average across international shipping, by at least 50% by 2050, compared to 2008.

In addition, the industry associations have suggested that the IMO give consideration to another possible objective of reducing international shipping’s total annual CO2 emissions, by an agreed percentage by 2050 compared to 2008, as a point on a continuing trajectory of further CO2 emissions reduction.

The industry associations assert that it is important for the IMO to send a clear, unambiguous signal to the global community that shipping’s global regulators have agreed to some ambitious objectives 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.

The shipping industry maintains its position that the IMO to remain in control of additional measures to address CO2 reduction by international shipping and to develop a global solution, rather than risk the danger of market-distorting measures at the national or regional level.

Importantly, the associations say, is acknowledging concerns of developing nations about the possible impacts of CO2 reduction for trade and sustainable development, the industry submission 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.

The industry associations also highlight that dramatic in-sector CO2 reductions alongside increasing trade would require substantial and sustained research into the development of alternative fossil-free fuels and new technologies – something which they say needs to be identified by the IMO strategy.

A 2014 IMO GHG Study identified that, in 2012, 2.2% of the world’s man-made CO2 emissions can be attributed to international shipping.  However, the IMO study also estimated that the sector’s total CO2 emissions declined by over 13% between 2008 and 2012 due to technical and operational fuel efficiency measures, despite increasing maritime trade. 

The full shipping industry submission to IMO can be read at: http://www.ics-shipping.org/