Pressure grows on next week’s MEPC in London

The 73rd meeting of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) will take place at the London headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) next week and pressure is building to deliver some concrete commitments to decarbonise the industry.

The gathering will be the first United Nations multilateral meeting to address climate change since the high profile International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report published last week, which highlighted the devastating consequences of failing to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, and that global warming of 2°C or more will not be safe for any country.

A statement issued from the so-called High Ambition Coalition of countries, led by the Marshall Islands, ahead of the London negotiations, said it was vital the IMO demonstrates that it is taking steps to fully implement its initial strategy, agreed in April, to combat climate change. The statement stressed it was important to prioritise and develop measures that have the potential to achieve further reductions of greenhouse gas emissions before 2023.

Dr Morgan Wairiu, one of the lead authors of the landmark IPCC’s 1.5 degrees special report, gave a presentation to IMO earlier this week on the urgent need for shipping to develop decarbonising measures fast.

“The IPCC’s 1.5 degrees report says there has to be collective action to reduce emissions. That means everybody, including the shipping industry,” Wairu said, adding: “We don’t have long to get back on course for only 1.5 degrees [of global warming]. We have a small window of opportunity, around 10 years.”

While the IMO in its initial strategy has a goal for shipping to reduce emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels, Wairiu, who hails from the climate-endangered Solomon Islands, urged that shipping must go further and meet zero emissions by then.

“Energy efficiency measures, market-based measures, and zero carbon fuels all need to be pursued immediately,” Wairiu stressed.

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. Dr Morgan is an outstanding colleague at the University of the South Pacific. I’m proud to know him. USP is owned by 12 Pacific countries, many at the coalface of charting the IMO’s decarbonisation pathway – we’re proud to be providing technical and scientific support to these negotiations and to be training the next generation of Island negotiators to make sure it happens in time. If our small island states and our small university can do it, there can be no excuse for the rest of the world. As Ghandi said – to lead by example is not AN option, it is the ONLY option. Thanks for leading the way Morgan.

    And its still “1.5 to stay alive”

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