Deal struck to halve shipping GHG emissions by 2050

Just after 3pm UK time on Friday more than 170 nations agreed to move ahead with an initial strategy to halve shipping’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 2008 levels by 2050. Just two nations – old allies Saudi Arabia and the US – decided not to endorse the measures that will eventually reshape the shipping industry.

The strategy includes a specific reference to “a pathway of CO2 emissions reduction consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals”, and could ultimately lead to cuts in GHG emissions of more than 50%.

A relieved IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim told delegates, “I encourage you to continue your work through the newly adopted initial GHG strategy which is designed as a platform for future actions. I am confident in relying on your ability to relentlessly continue your efforts and develop further actions that will soon contribute to reducing GHG emissions from ships.”

According to the roadmap approved by IMO member states in 2016, the initial strategy is due to be revised by 2023.

Reaction from across the shipping spectrum was broadly welcoming to today’s news, ranging from the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) lavishing praise on the IMO vote as the “Paris Agreement for shipping”, while Danish shipping giant Maersk commended the deal as a good first step, though it wanted more stringent cuts, and at the other of the end of the debating table Greenpeace said today’s compromise was far from perfect, claiming the lack of an action plan and the tone of discussions at the IMO did not give much confidence that measures will be adopted soon.

Splash will be reporting on the full ramifications of today’s IMO vote all next week.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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