Shipping Industry Agrees To Historic Global Emissions Cut

Engie Insight Mathias Lelievre

by | Apr 16, 2018

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global shipping industry emissions cut

(Photo: The IMO meeting last week in London. Credit: International Maritime Organization)

The International Maritime Organization’s weeklong meeting in London has produced a historic deal. Most nations that are members of the UN body agreed to reduce total annual global shipping industry greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.

This strategy was adopted by the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) during its 72nd session at the organization’s London headquarters in a meeting attended by more than 100 member states.

Member states agreed to strengthen energy efficiency design requirements for new ships. The initial strategy also calls for reducing the carbon intensity of international shipping by at least 40% by 2030 with the goal of a 70% reduction by 2050 compared to 2008.

Climate Home News’ Sara Stefanini called the weeklong talks tense with blocs of countries tussling over the level of ambition.

“In a sign of battles to come, several countries registered concerns about the compromise. The US, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, India, Iran, and the Philippines were among the strongest opponents of a cap on emissions – some arguing it’s premature and could harm the shipping industry, and others saying it would need adjustment before the strategy is finalized in 2023,” she wrote.

Ahead of the meeting, the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association and government officials from the country encouraged the 50% reduction by 2050 goal. The most ardent proponents of emission controls have been Pacific island nations, where rising sea levels are already swallowing up land, Bloomberg reported.

Next, a working group focused on reducing GHG emissions from ships will develop follow-up actions and report to the MEPC. “Proposed measures include speed reductions and tougher energy efficiency design rules in the near term, market-based levies and subsidies in the mid-term, and development of zero-emission fuels further down the line,” Stefanini reported. The committee plans to meet in October.

Even though international shipping was left out of the 2015 Paris agreement, IMO’s leadership says that as the regulatory body for the shipping industry, the organization is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In July 2011, the IMO established an Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) requiring a minimum energy efficiency level per capacity mile for different ship types and sizes. A study published last fall showed that 71% of all new containerships already complied with the EEDI’s post-2025 requirements.

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