Shipowners present climate targets ahead of IMO meeting

The International Chamber of Shipping and three other interest groups have presented their proposal for two concrete climate requirements for shipping. The news comes ahead of a meeting of IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee. NGOs point to a lack of ambition.

Shipowners are now ready with their vision for how the industry can reduce its CO2 emissions after the sector was left out of the requirements listed in the Paris global climate accord two years ago.

The industry associations assert that it is important for IMO to send a clear, unambiguous signal to the global community"

ICS, Bimco, Intercargo, and Intertanko in a joint statement
In a new paper, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), Bimco, Intertank, and Intercargo list two requirements the associations believe carriers should comply with in order to curb climate change.

This comes a little over a week before the next meeting of the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), at which the member states will try to get closer to agreement on how much the shipping sector should reduce its CO2 emissions, starting in 2023.

By the end of 2018 at the latest, the IMO must agree on a road map for how and by how much emissions must be reduced in the shipping sector, which is being accused by critics of hesitating on the matter while the rest of the world is working full-speed to cut reliance on fossil fuels. The 2018 road map will form the basis for the final strategy which the member states must follow from 2023.

Specifically, the ICS and the three other associations list two objectives with which carriers must comply.

  • To maintain international shipping’s annual total CO2 emissions below 2008 levels
  • To reduce CO2 emissions per tonne of cargo transported one kilometre, as an average across international shipping, by at least 50% by 2050, compared to 2008

Must send a signal

In addition to the two objectives, the shipowners also stress the importance of the IMO acting now, so that the industry gets global regulations rather than regional legislation.

"The industry associations assert that it is important for IMO to send a clear, unambiguous signal to the global community that shipping’s regulators have agreed to some ambitious objectives for reducing the sector’s CO2 emissions, in the same way that land-based activity is now covered by government commitments under the Paris Agreement," say the associations in a statement.

EU Commission criticizes IMO inertia

And the fear of regional legislation does seem well-founded. The EU has on several occasions criticized the IMO, saying that the process is moving far too slowly. The Union has also voted to place shipping under its emission trading system and is now working on how to best do this.

This is a far from welcome development among European shipowners, who note that EU regulations which are more far-reaching that global regulations would distort competition.

NGOs point to lack of ambition

The proposal from the four interest groups gets a lukewarm welcome from several non-governmental environmental organizations, which are far from impressed by the objectives.

This position effectively states that from today until 2050, overall GHG emissions levels will stay roughly where they were at their height in 2008"

Maurice Meehan, Director of Global Shipping Operations, Carbon War Room
"While we commend BIMCO, Intercargo, Intertanko, and ICS for publishing this statement, the objectives lack the ambition that the world expects of the shipping industry. This position effectively states that from today until 2050, overall GHG emissions levels will stay roughly where they were at their height in 2008," says Maurice Meehan, Director of Global Shipping Operations at the NGO Carbon War Room.

NGO Clean Shipping Coalition takes as a somewhat similar stance, also calling for carriers to base their efforts on current emission figures rather than the peak figures from 2008.

The upcoming MEPC71 meeting will be held in London on July 3-7.

English Edit: Daniel Logan Berg-Munch

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