Global Shipping in ‘Historic’ Climate Deal


  • The global shipping industry has agreed to a 50% cut down on greenhouse gas emission.
  • The move comes after, the week long IMO meeting held in London.
  • While the developing nations like Brazil didn’t want a cut, the European nations wanted a 70-100% cut.
  • Kitack Lim, the secretary-general of IMO calls the 50% cut the starting point of the journey.
  • As a result, various changes like tactical speed control, streamline designing and hydrogen powered ships are expected. 

In a major break through, the global shipping industry has agreed to a 50% cut down on greenhouse gas emission in the IMO meeting that ended in London this week, reports BBC.

At a time when ship pollution is exempted from the Paris Climate Deal and it’s causing a havoc in the environment, this decision taken by the shipping giants at the all week International Maritime Organization (IMO) meeting in London, is a path-breaking step.

Importance of the agreement

Shippings has previously been excluded from climate agreements, but under the deal, emissions will be reduced by 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.

One minister from a Pacific island state described the agreement as “history in the making”.

Shipping generates roughly the same quantity of greenhouse gas as Germany and, if it were accounted for as a nation, would rank as the world’s sixth biggest emitter.

Like aviation, it had been excluded from climate negotiations because it is an international activity while both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement involved national pledges to reduce greenhouse gases.

Setting Up The Target

The United States, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and a few other countries had not wanted to see a target for cutting shipping emissions at all.

By contrast the European Union, including Britain, and small island states had pushed for a cut of 70-100%. So the deal for a 50% reduction is a compromise which some argue is unrealistic while others say does not far enough.

Plea for Action

The tiny Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands had opened the conference with a plea for action. Although it has the world’s second largest register of shipping, it had warned that failure to achieve deep cuts would threaten the country’s survival as global warming raises sea levels.

The Consensus

As the talks concluded, the nation’s environment minister David Paul said: “To get to this point has been hard, very hard. And it has involved compromises by all countries. Not least by vulnerable island nations like my own who wanted something, far, far more ambitious than this one.”

Mr Paul added: “This is history in the making… if a country like the Marshall Islands, a country that is very vulnerable to climate change, and particularly depends on international shipping, can endorse this deal, there is no credible excuse for anybody else to hold back.”

“It is the best we could do and is therefore what this delegation will support as the initial strategy that we have no doubt will evolve to higher ambitions in the near future.”

By contrast, the head of the US delegation to the talks, Jeffrey Lantz, made clear his country’s opposition to the deal.

“We do not support the establishment of an absolute reduction target at this time,” he said. “In addition, we note that achieving significant emissions reductions, in the international shipping sector, would depend on technological innovation and further improvements in energy efficiency.”

Mr Lantz reiterated that the US, under President Trump, has announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change. He also criticised the way the IMO had handled the talks, describing it as “unacceptable and not befitting this esteemed organisation.”

Laurent Parente, the ambassador of Vanuatu, also a Pacific island nation, was not satisfied but hoped the deal would lead to tougher action in future.

But a clear majority of the conference was in favour of action.

Impact of the agreement

The UK’s shipping minister, Nusrat Ghani, described the agreement as “a watershed moment with the industry showing it is willing to play its part in protecting the planet”. The move will send a signal through the industry that rapid innovation is now needed.

Kitack Lim, secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization, who had chaired the controversial talks, said: “This initial strategy is not a final statement but a key starting point.”

Judging by the new dictums the shipping industry is set for major changes as they have to control their speed to reduce the fuel consumption, add new streamlined designs which has cleaner engines powered by wind, hydrogen or batteries. So, a dynamic shift is on the loop.

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Source: BBC