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  • Shipping industry sells out on Paris agreement on eve of UN talks

    A call by the shipping industry [1] for governments to compromise on ambition ahead of key UN discussions to reduce maritime emissions actually abandons the goals of the Paris agreement, sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) has said. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) meets from 3-13 April to adopt an initial greenhouse gas (GHG) strategy for the shipping sector.

    Faig Abbasov, shipping officer with T&E, said: The April negotiations are the last chance for the member states of the IMO and the shipping sector to respond to the Paris agreement’s goal of global warming not exceeding 1.5ºC. Having earlier said they would not pick sides because it was for governments to decide, the lead shipping organisation, the International Chamber of Shipping, has now decided to align itself with proposals from Japan and China against a high-ambition coalition of states and environmental NGOs. In the same breath the ICS cynically calls for ambition while touting proposals that will sink the entire Paris agreement.”

    Japan is proposing that the sector’s emissions be cut 50% by 2060 over 2008 levels. This, however, will overshoot shipping’s 1.5ºC carbon budget by a 21Gt – 16 times Japan’s total annual CO2 emissions – and see shipping’s greenhouse gas emissions continuing for many years beyond Japan’s proposed target year of 2060. Full decarbonisation is not even envisaged by then. China is against even the adoption of any long-term reduction objectives in April.

    Faig Abbasov concluded: “So the ICS declaration must be seen as a complete abrogation of responsibility. It is at odds with scientific evidence showing that the sector can fully decarbonise within the first half of the century. We believe others in the sector well understand that shipping can modernise and decarbonise and that action to do so needs to start now. Those with vision need to stand firm next week in support of both the Paris agreement and climate vulnerable nations by seeking full decarbonisation by 2050.

    A report released by the International Transport Forum earlier this week concluded that the maritime sector can be fully decarbonised by around 2035. Another report released in December last year by University College London and the Lloyd’s Register ship classification society concluded that, with the right carbon pricing, the sector can use battery-electric propulsion and alternative fuels like liquid hydrogen and ammonia to eliminate its carbon footprint in the near future.

    Note to editor:

    [1] Statement by International Chamber of Shipping, 26 March:

    Read more:

    T&E position paper: Initial IMO greenhouse gas strategy