Charting Out the Path To Reduce Shipping Industry Emissions


  • The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) has planned on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the shipping industry.
  • The UN Cop 27 climate conference however, is not expected to further the cause.
  • A World Shipping Council paper has presented three suggestions to IMO members ahead of the December meeting.  

The next UN COP 27 climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, is unlikely to speed up the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) ambitions of bringing reduction in shipping industry emissions. 

Steps on the Right Path 

The IMO’s present strategy targets a 50pc reduction in overall GHG emissions by 2050 compared with 2008 levels, and a 70pc reduction in CO2 emissions over the same timeframe. Member countries are currently working towards revising the strategy by the middle of 2023. The Marshall Islands, which with Liberia and Panama have the three largest ship registries globally, does not expect Cop 27 discussions to directly affect the work of the 79th Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting in December. Around 10,000 vessels are registered in Liberia and the Marshall Islands, with the latter a major tanker fleet registry. Flag states have responsibility for implementation and enforcement of maritime laws, which means they have to ensure ships under their registries are compliant with the IMO strategy. In the first days of COP 26 last year, the Marshall Islands led the declaration on zero emission shipping by 2050. Other initiatives included Clydebank declaration for green shipping corridors and the First Movers Coalition.

From Failure to Success

Although COP 26 brought about ambitious goals for the shipping sector and despite the pressure to do more, IMO member countries have so far failed to agree to speed up the revision process, let alone the setting of new emissions targets. The Marshall Islands, with Kiribati and Solomon Islands submitted a resolution for the 77th IMO environmental committee meeting, which followed Cop 26, to commit to zero GHG emissions in shipping by 2050, but it failed to gain support. Divisions emerged between states over the impact of more ambitious targets, with some states refusing outright to countenance a total phase-out of emissions by 2050. 

But the UN climate conference and some of its initiatives are continuing to influence the IMO debate. A World Shipping Council paper presents three suggestions to IMO members ahead of the December meeting. One of these suggestions is to build on existing initiatives and develop an IMO “green corridors program”, which would draw on Cop 26’s Clydebank declaration. Another proposal was reducing the number of steps in the GHG fuel standard goals as a mid-term measure.

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Source : Argusmedia


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