IMO adopts plan to halve shipping GHG emissions by 2050

Marshall Islands Minister of Environment David Paul

The Marshall Islands, which is among the top flag states, and European Union had proposed a 70% reduction in GHG emissions, while countries such as Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia, and United States had opposed absolute emission targets, preferring to focus on reducing the carbon intensity of ships.

Nations meeting at the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London in early April voted to place a cap on the greenhouse gas emissions permissible from ships - a source of emissions that has not previously been covered by global agreements such as the Paris climate deal.

"The shipping sector must contribute its fair share to the goals of the Paris Agreement", said EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc and her colleague in charge of Energy and Climate Action, Miguel Arias CaƱete.

"This is only the beginning of a long and arduous road to ensure that feasible and workable global measures are developed and implemented in a way that guarantees safety and a global level playing field, while minimising their potential impact on the growing world economy and increasing worldwide trade", Veniamis said.

David Paul, minister-in-assistance to the president and environment minister of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, told the MEPC: "We must leave here in no doubt".

"We are confident this will give the shipping industry the clear signal it needs to get on with the job of developing zero carbon dioxide fuels so that the entire sector will be in a position to decarbonise completely", he said. History has been made by the IMO today. "While it may not be enough to give my country the certainty it wanted, it makes it clear that global shipping will now urgently reduce emissions and play its part in giving my country a pathway to survival", she said in a statement.

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The compromise plan to halve shipping emissions by 2050 leaves the door open to deeper cuts in the future, placing a strong emphasis on scaling up action to 100% by mid-century.

Shipping now represents 2-3% of global Carbon dioxide emissions and could reach 10% by 2050 if no action is taken, the Commission reminded.

Commenting on the agreement, Maersk Line said it was "pushing for stronger targets" but that the deal was still a 'great step'.

Some environmental groups have warned that a 50 percent cut may not be enough to keep global warming below 2.0 degrees Celsius.

"Even with the lowest level of ambition, the shipping industry will require rapid technological changes to produce zero-emission ships, moving from fossil fuels, to a combination of electricity (batteries), renewable fuels derived from hydrogen, and potentially bioenergy", he said.

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