Shipping emissions must be cut to meet Paris climate target, say NGOs

The IMO must act to cut CO2 emissions from shipping or the 1.5/2°C global warming limit agreed at the Paris climate summit will be impossible to meet, the NGOs Seas At Risk and Transport & Environment have warned.

A recent EU study found shipping could be responsible for 17% of global CO2 emissions in 2050 if left unregulated. However, the industry was left out of the global warming agreement drafted at December’s UN Climate Change Summit in Paris.

The IMO’s new secretary-general Kitack Lim will meet with EU commissioners in Brussels today and emissions from shipping are set to be top of the agenda.

“The EU in parallel needs to include shipping in its 2030 reduction commitment now and in the EU ETS [emissions trading scheme] or in an EU climate fund from 2021,” Sotiris Raptis, shipping officer at Transport & Environment said in a statement today.

The two NGOs call emissions from shipping “the elephant in the room”, which they say could jeopardise the efforts of other sectors to keep global warming below 2°C. The industry’s emissions have increased by 70% since 1990 and are forecast to grow by up to a further 250% by 2050.

“The IMO, the UN body tasked with tackling the climate impacts of shipping, has so far failed to grasp the nettle on shipping’s growing contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” the organisations added.

In mid-December, the IMO’s outgoing IMO secretary-general, Koji Sekimizu, said shipping’s absence from the Paris agreement would “in no way diminish the strong commitment of IMO as the regulator of the shipping industry to continue work to address GHG emissions from ships engaged in international trade”.

“There is no reasonable excuse to continue exempting the sector from the global and EU climate policies. That shipping needs to make its fair share of cuts to keep global warming well below 2°C is not negotiable after Paris,” John Maggs, senior policy advisor at Seas At Risk, said today.

Seas At Risk and Transport & Environment are members of the Clean Shipping Coalition, which has observer status at the IMO.

Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.
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