Shipowners Urge IMO to Set Timeline for Reducing GHG Emissions

The world’s national shipowner associations represented by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) have urged the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to develop a timeline for the further reduction of the shipping sector’s Green House Gas (GHG) emissions as a response to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

ICS has proposed that the details of a CO2 reduction commitment should be developed on behalf of the sector as soon as possible. According to ICS, the goal is to build on the substantial CO2 reductions already achieved by shipping, and the mandatory IMO CO2 reduction regime which is already in force worldwide.

“The binding IMO rules, in force worldwide since 2013, will mean that future ships will be even more efficient and most ships built after 2025 will be at least 30% more efficient than those delivered in the 2000s.  It is amazing to consider that the most efficient ships today only burn 1 gram of fuel per tonne of cargo moved one kilometre. With bigger ships, better engines, cleaner fuels and operational efficiency measures such as satellite-assisted speed management, we are confident of reducing CO2 emissions per tonne-kilometre by 50% by 2050,” Esben Poulsson, ICS Chairman, said.

Despite their current reliance on fossil fuels, individual ships are becoming far more efficient, ICS said. However, the industry also wants IMO to respond to the challenge of addressing the total CO2 emissions from the sector if demand for maritime trade continues to increase due to population growth and economic development – factors over which the industry has no control.

The first step will be a global CO2 data collection system for ships, which IMO Member States will officially establish this October, with full industry support. This system should then become fully operational by 2018.

ICS explained that, in the same way that governments under the Paris Agreement have set out Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for reducing the total GHG emissions by their national economies, IMO needs to do something similar on behalf of the international shipping industry, even though it is a sector and not a country.

“We wish to see IMO Member States adopt a course similar to that agreed by governments in Paris and which reflects the spirit of the Agreement. This will help IMO Member States to demonstrate they are serious about building on the real progress already made by the shipping industry to reduce CO2,” Poulsson added.

The Paris Agreement on climate change makes no explicit reference to international transport. However, the UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol, which is still in force, makes clear that both the shipping and aviation sectors have a responsibility to reduce their GHG emissions.

On October 4, 2016, the European Parliament approved the ratification of the Paris Agreement by the European Union. So far, 62 parties, accounting for almost 52% of global emissions, have ratified the agreement.

The agreement will enter into force 30 days after the ratification of at least 55 parties, which represent 55% of global emissions. The EU ratification and deposit will cross the 55% emission threshold and therefore trigger the entry into force of the Paris Agreement.

About 90% of global trade is moved by cargo ships which are collectively responsible for about 2.2% of the world’s total GHG emissions.

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