Pacific Islands issue position paper on shipping emissions

The Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) has published a position paper in regards to shipping emissions negotiations taking place at the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The paper is an outcome of the Pacific Maritime Technical Officers Workshop on Shipping Emissions hosted by PIDF in Suva, the capital of Fiji, last month. The IMO is scheduled to deliver an initial strategy on international shipping greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction at the 72nd meeting of the  Maritime Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) next month. This IMO initial strategy will, among other matters, determine the vision and level of ambition, and is expected to include an ‘action plan’ on the development of short-term measures (2018-2023).

The secretary general of the PIDF, François Martel commented: “This paper recognises that failure by the global community to achieve a strong initial strategy will likely mean that future efforts from shipping will be insufficient to ensure the world limit temperature rise to 1.5C. The Pacific has been clear on the need that the world limits temperature rise to 1.5C, as also reflected in the Paris Agreement, and for us to do so all sectors need to do their part, including the maritime transport sector.” 

The Pacific Islands, many threatened by rising sea levels, have been among the most vocal in demanding dramatic GHG emission cuts from shipping.

All Pacific submissions to date have advocated for a level of ambition consistent with shipping accepting a sectoral fair share approach and a no more than 1.5⁰C global temperature increase consistent with the Paris Agreement goal.

“The available science advises that this level of ambition requires shipping emissions to peak as soon as possible and to reach full decarbonisation by 2050 with substantive short-term measures being implemented well before 2023. It is considered that this would give a 50% chance of not exceeding a 1.5⁰C warming threshold with shipping sectoral emissions held as a constant percentage of global emissions,” the forum stated in a release sent to Splash.

The paper notes there is no agreement on what short-term measures- for the period 2018-2023 – will be committed to, and when or how they would be implemented.

However, the Pacific Islanders argue that a decarbonisation by 2050 strategy requires clear and significant short term measures to be adopted if momentum is to be built and a clear decarbonisation pathway be demonstrated.

The paper states that the “available science is clear that a delay in determining and implementing substantive measures until after 2023 makes a 1.5⁰C target largely unattainable. To keep 1.5⁰C alive, the Initial Strategy must include commitment to implementation of adequate short-term measures to demonstrate early IMO/industry commitment to a decarbonisation trajectory.”

The PIDF Pacific Position Paper on Shipping Emissions was developed with the support of the Micronesian Centre for Sustainable Transportation (MCST) jointly run by the University of the South Pacific and the government of Marshall Islands and the University College London.

While the stance of the Pacific Islands on shipping emissions has met with support from a number of European nations, a group of four big nations – Argentina, Brazil, India and Saudi Arabia – have sought to water down any environmental deal at next month’s MEPC gathering in London. The four nations are pushing for no regulations to come into place before 2023 and to delete mentions in any legislation calling for significant emission reductions by the middle of the century.

Splash will be bringing readers extended news in and around next month’s important MEPC meeting. 

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. Yes, please.

      And may we note in passing that the Pacific islands Development Forum appears to have some actual science behind its proposals, unlike the half BRICs, who seem to adhere to the Donald Trump school of climate change.

  1. Dear Ore and Andrew. the paper is available at PIDF twitter or on the MCST-RMISUP.com site under breaking news.

    Yes, we are proud of the science that we as a regional university can produce for our region with support of world leading experts.

    The science sees to be the easy bit, getting political concurrence and concrete action appears the dicey part.


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