A recent news article published in the Philstar Global states that IMO climate talks end without clear emissions-reduction goal for shipping.
The climate talks at IMO
The climate talks at the International Maritime Organization saw more countries supporting the move to decarbonize shipping by 2050, but the meeting failed to adopt a concrete target to eliminate pollution from the maritime industry.
IMO member states met in London from December 12 to 16 for the 79th session of the agency’s Marine Environment Protection Committee and discussed how the shipping industry can fast track its climate mitigation efforts.
IMO, the United Nations agency that regulates global shipping, is currently revising its existing climate strategy, which aims to only halve emissions from ships by mid-century. Member states are set to meet again in July 2023 to conclude the negotiations.
Scientists and experts, however, stressed that emissions from ships must be halved by 2030 and must reach net zero by 2050 to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
They also said that early action will save the maritime industry around $100 billion per year in costs of decarbonization, preserving this capital for shipping’s green transition and support for the most vulnerable countries.
“While no decision was reached this week on tackling the damage shipping does to our planet, we have definitely seen important progress in this direction,” said Delaine McCullough, shipping emissions policy manager with Ocean Conservancy.
Only 10 countries expressed opposition to increasing the level of ambition at MEPC 79.
“What we have been calling for for years, is finally happening: the IMO is slowly, but without a doubt, making progress on climate. More and more countries now support eliminating shipping’s pollution by 2050,” said Lucy Gilliam, a campaigner with Seas at Risk.
Ships are responsible for around 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions annually, or equivalent to the emissions of Germany or Japan.
Just transition for seafarers
In preparation for the decarbonization of the shipping industry, seafarers will need to be equipped with adequate skills and training to operate new technologies and handle alternative fuels like ammonia, which could pose a significant health and safety risk to them.
At the IMO climate talks, the Philippines requested for technology transfer and capacity building. The Philippines is the world’s largest supplier of seafarers.
“We need to find ways to help developing countries like the Philippines in the preparation of our seafarers to transition into low- to zero-carbon shipping,” said Neil Azcuna, technical adviser on maritime affairs at the Philippine Embassy in London.
“We realize that the success of our decarbonization goals is heavily dependent on people and their capacity building,” he added.
In a meeting with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources last month, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. discussed the need to upskill and reskill the maritime workforce. How his government plans to do that remains unclear.
Martha Selwyn, United Nations Global Compact manager, told Philstar.com the lack of clarity on the decarbonization trajectory is a bottleneck for the just transition of the shipping industry.
“This lack of clarity and uncertainty is making it difficult to plan for the creation of curriculum, testing, and training programs,” she said.
Level of ambition
“It cannot be stressed enough how crucial it is that we keep the momentum and deliver an ambitious and fair, revised IMO GHG Strategy at MEPC 80 next year,” said IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim.
In an interview with reporters, Lim said that while all countries recognize the seriousness of decarbonization, they were concerned about the economic impacts of the move and the compensation.
“The final destination is July. The key element is we adopt a level of ambition, whether we support in 2050 net zero or [whatever] aspiration, and how we develop the tools… and how we produce alternative fuels for the future, and whether we agree on market-based measures,” Lim said.
IMO member states also adopted resolutions urging voluntary cooperation between the port and the shipping sectors to contribute to reducing emissions, and urging member states to develop and submit voluntary National Action Plans to address emissions from ships.
IMO is also negotiating on a “basket” of different measures to reduce pollution from ships in the medium term including a fuel standard and a carbon levy. Under the carbon levy proposed by the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands.
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