IMO 'fails to grasp seriousness' of ships' CO2

Unilateral action by the EU to combat carbon dioxide emissions from shipping may have moved a step closer following a disappointing meeting of the International Maritime Organisation's working group on greenhouse gas emissions from ships in Oslo last month.

Sketch of some documents (default image for news

Proposals for both a global fuel levy and a global emissions trading scheme were put forward by European countries, but they were attacked as 'European' and rejected following opposition from Saudi Arabia, China, India, South Africa, and Brazil.

The meeting even failed to agree on a way of measuring CO2 emissions from shipping. Delegates from Norway made the point that without some reliable measure of CO2 emissions from international shipping it would be very difficult to track progress and show the outside world that the industry was taking its responsibilities seriously.

John Maggs of the Seas at Risk NGO said: 'The failure to agree a method for accurately measuring fuel use and thus CO2 emissions – arguably a key foundation for regulation – is a clear indicator that the industry has failed to grasp the seriousness of the problem and the resources and effort that it will take to tackle it.

'At the moment the main factor limiting progress is the refusal by certain developing countries to consider an approach applying to all ships. The argument that shipping is a special case and that any potential adverse effects on ships genuinely owned by developing countries would be more than compensated for by the funds used in those countries for adaptation and mitigation has yet to convince.'

The EU has been threatening to take unilateral action for more than a year, and has talked about entering shipping in the EU ETS. Following an IMO breakthrough on sulphur earlier this year, there was hope in environmental circles that IMO might take more action on CO2, hence the disappointment of the Oslo meeting.