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IMO agrees strategy for cutting carbon dioxide emissions in shipping

16 April 2018

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) compromise aims to cut GHG emissions by half.

But opposition from some countries - including the United States, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Panama - limited what could be achieved at the IMO session last week in London.

More specifically, under the identified "levels of ambition", the initial strategy envisages for the first time a reduction in total GHG emissions from worldwide shipping which, it says, should peak as soon as possible and to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while, at the same time, pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely. Barring two countries, most nations, even the ones with huge shipping industries, have supported the agreement, an expert, who was part of the negotiations, told IANS.

This confirms IMO's commitment to reducing GHG emissions from global shipping and, as a matter of urgency, to phasing them out as soon as possible.

Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine also praised the deal. History has been made by the IMO today.

"We are confident this will give the shipping industry the clear signal it needs to get on with the job of developing zero Carbon dioxide fuels, so that the entire sector will be in a position to decarbonise completely, consistent with the 1.5 degree climate change goal". "While it may not be enough to give my country the certainty it wanted, it makes it clear that worldwide shipping will now urgently reduce emissions and play its part in giving my country a pathway to survival", she said in a statement.

The US was a notable critic of the deal and reiterated that the country had withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement and as such is not legally tied by the same legislature that other countries are. The European Union proposal was for a 70-100% cut in shipping's carbon emissions from 2008's levels by 2050, arguing anything less would threaten the goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.

"In the longer term, the shipping industry's ability to remain on the agreed GHG reduction pathway inevitably hinges upon the indispensable availability globally of alternative low or no carbon, safe fuels for the efficient operation of the world fleet".

Commenting on the agreement, Maersk Line said it was "pushing for stronger targets" but that the deal was still a 'great step'.

Britain's Shipping Minister Nusrat Ghani said the deal was a "watershed moment".

"We will work with fellow member states to ensure the shipping industry makes the transition to zero emissions ships as quickly as possible", she said.

IMO agrees strategy for cutting carbon dioxide emissions in shipping