Many more nations back shipping carbon levy at COP26

More than 50 Climate Vulnerable Forum countries (CVF), from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific, have called for the UN’s shipping agency, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), to establish a greenhouse gas levy on international shipping.

This is part of the CVF Dhaka-Glasgow Declaration launched at the COP26 climate summit yesterday, urging the rest of the world to deliver on the Climate Emergency Pact and accelerate action to keep the 1.5 degree temperature goal within reach.

This CVF endorsement comes ahead of the IMO’s 77th Environmental Protection Committee Meeting (MEPC 77) later this month where member states will discuss a proposal for a $100 carbon tax for shipping by the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands.

Dr Tristan Smith from University College London commented: “Decarbonising shipping requires massive investments in green hydrogen energy supply chains. This can be an opportunity for some, but for others it can increase transport costs and inequality. It also creates a risk of leaving countries behind technologically. This is why this leadership and elegant solution proposal by CVF is so important as it can help IMO move forwards ambitiously and equitably.”

Lucy Gilliam from the NGO Seas at Risk said: “Far too often we see a disconnect between national climate ambition and the positions taken by the flag state at the IMO. We need to join these dots to deliver the urgent short-term emission reductions that are necessary to save 1.5 degrees.”

A global carbon levy has already received support from the industry itself, represented by the International Chamber of Shipping, Getting to Zero Coalition, Maersk, and commodity trader Trafigura.

Shipping decarbonisation headlines have been coming in thick and fast at COP26 in Glasgow in the opening days of the summit.

US president Joe Biden is set to announce the First Movers Coalition as a partnership between the United States and the World Economic Forum. It aims to use the purchasing power of the US government to incentivise corporations to shift toward cleaner and more efficient technologies in sectors with the highest carbon emissions, including shipping and trucking. More details on the new initiative will be carried by Splash tomorrow.

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.


  1. It is becoming increasingly evident that many countries consider a levy to be the most suitable MBM for international shipping and that other MBMs under consideration at IMO such as cap and trade are not trusted to deliver the carbon reductions/finance in an equitable manner.

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