Pressure Mounts on IMO to Set CO2 Reduction Targets

Governments will have to compromise to enable the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to set an ambitious strategy for the further reduction of CO2 emissions by shipping that will match the expectations of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said.

The message was conveyed ahead of the critical meetings of the IMO, MEPC 72,  set to commence on April 3.

 “Governments on all sides of the debate are going to need to show far more willingness to compromise on their current positions or put at risk an agreement on a meaningful strategy. This would greatly undermine the authority of IMO and the future sustainability of the shipping industry,” ICS Chairman, Esben Poulsson, said.

Poulsson stressed that agreement on the total reduction of CO2 emissions by the sector, regardless of trade growth, is vital to discourage unilateral action and stimulate the development of zero CO2 fuels.

However, the ICS Chairman believes that a 70 to 100 percent total cut in emissions before 2050, proposed by certain EU Member States, is unlikely to achieve consensus support.

In a briefing note to its member national shipowners’ associations, ICS suggests that if IMO was to set an initial objective of cutting the sector’s total CO2 emissions by, for example, 50 percent, rather than 70 to 100 percent, this would still require a major improvement in ship efficiency over ‘business as usual’.

“A mid-century objective similar to that proposed by Japan – which might also enjoy support from nations like China if EU nations were willing to compromise – would still provide a compelling signal to the industry. This should also be sufficient to stimulate the development of zero CO2 fuels leading to a 100 percent CO2 reduction in line with the ambitious vision which IMO must agree,” Poulsson added.

In advance of zero CO2 fuels becoming available globally, the industry has also proposed that IMO should adopt the following objectives:

  • Objective 1 – to maintain international shipping’s annual total CO2 emissions below 2008 levels; Objective 2 – to reduce
  • CO2 emissions per tonne-km, as an average across international shipping, by at least 50% by 2050, compared to 2008; and
  • Objective 3 – reduce international shipping’s total annual CO2 emissions by an agreed percentage by 2050, compared to 2008, as a point on a continuing trajectory of CO2 emissions reduction.

“With the IMO MEPC 72 meeting fast approaching, the European Shipowners reiterate their strongest possible commitment to the development, within the time schedule agreed in the Roadmap, of an ambitious and realistic IMO strategy on GHG, including CO2 emissions reductions from shipping as a whole and urges Member States to work diligently towards this goal,” ECSA’s President Panos Laskaridis said.

Laskaridis believes that the conclusion of an agreement at the forthcoming IMO MEPC 72 is imperative for addressing GHG emissions reductions from international shipping meaningfully and effectively and it is committed to facilitate this process, working closely and in good faith with all stakeholders.

ECSA said that all proposals by IMO Member States should be discussed on their own merit, as the negotiations have reached a very sensitive and political stage.

 “It is in this context that ECSA strongly supports and advocates an insightful compromise approach by Member States and the European Institutions in order to reach an agreement, which is the objective for the benefit of the industry and the environment,” Laskaridis concluded.

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