Pacific states call for dramatic shipping emissions cuts

A coalition of Pacific Island ministers yesterday launched their strongest joint call yet for the global shipping industry to radically cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Ministers from the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and Kiribati were joined by envoys from Fiji, Vanuatu and Palau urging member states to align the sector’s emissions with a global goal to try and limit warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

That would mean the sector meeting a zero net emissions target by 2035, according to a submission supported by France, Germany, Belgium and Pacific Nations sent to IMO this week.

The intervention from the Pacific Islands pits them against Brazil, Argentina, India and Saudi Arabia, who voiced opposition to a tougher regulatory regime for the shipping sector during negotiations on Wednesday.

Marshall Islands minister for transport and communication Mike Halferty commented: “If international shipping was a country, it would be the seventh largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. And unless the sector takes additional action to those already planned, emissions from the sector will grow anywhere from 50% to 250% by 2050. That would be as much as all the greenhouse gas emissions from the European Union.”

Monies Laafai, minister of communication and transport for Tuvalu, said: “The UN considers that Tuvalu may well be the first nation to suffer from complete loss of landmass due to climate change. Whilst we are threatened by the rising seas, it is the changes this brings to our freshwater sources and supplies that will make our country uninhabitable first… For the survival of my country and our neighbours, I beg that we must all strive collectively for the highest level of ambition possible.”

Talks are set to run through this week at IMO’s HQ in London, with two more sets of negotiations planned ahead of a 2018 climate deal for the sector.

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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