Countries are on the verge of agreeing an historic UN deal in London that would signal the end of new fossil fuel powered ships within 2 decades
Over 170 countries at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) have spent the last week debating a range of decarbonisation pathways for the sector, which accounts for 2% of global carbon dioxide.
Under proposals set to go to the IMO’s decision-making body for approval this week the sector would commit to a minimum of 50% CO2 cuts (on 2008 levels) by 2050 with further emission cuts proposed.
Given ships are built to last at least 20 years, shipping analysts assessing talks at the IMO this week believe this would make the financing and construction of fossil fuel powered vessels by 2040 economic madness.
The current text commits the sector to:
“peak GHG emissions from international shipping as soon as possible and to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 whilst pursuing efforts towards phasing them out as called for in the Vision as a point on a continuing trajectory of CO2 emissions reduction consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals.”
On its own, this commitment is insufficient to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which targets a warming limit of 1.5°C. European Union member states, Pacific Island and Caribbean nations allied with some Latin American governments are calling for the IMO to agree a strategy in line with 1.5°C, which would target 70-100% CO2 cuts by 2050. Today the Marshall Islands environment minister David Paul said his country would walk away from the talks if the deal was not strong enough.
“Given the increasing vulnerability of all nations, economies and communities to the impacts of climate change, policy and market signals need to quickly align to encourage the maritime industry to make the needed transition toward zero net greenhouse gas emissions. The Secretary General calls on nations to adopt an ambitious Initial Strategy at the IMO that would support the modernization of the shipping sector in a manner consistent with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.”
David Paul, Marshall Islands environment minister –
“To fellow developing countries who are worried about what impact climate action will have on shipping I say this: I doubt that there are many – if any – countries in this room which have a greater economic interest in the outcome of this MEPC than the Marshall Islands, if you consider the importance of the shipping sector as a percentage of our GDP and our almost total reliance on shipping for trade. So, I speak with considerable credibility when I say that the argument being presented by some that climate action means a negative impact on shipping and trade is completely and utterly false.”
Bangladesh envoy to IMO –
“It is painful for us to inform you and the global community, that if we breach the 1.5 degree temperature goal our country will be partially or fully underwater. Mr chair and delegations, we urge IMO to align their goal with the Paris Agreement temperature goal. It is challenging but not impossible. Any delay or obstacle in this process will worsen our condition only.”
UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson –
“As an island nation with a proud seafaring history it is only right that UK calls for an ambitious & credible agreement to make the shipping sector cleaner & greener. Vital negotiations underway on greenhouse gases @IMOHQ must give results we need to meet goals of Paris Agreement.”