Shipping emissions under existing targets will be double what’s needed to meet Paris Agreement goals

New research from the University of Manchester shows that the current climate targets set for international shipping are far too lax, and would mean the sector cannot play its fair part in meeting the Paris climate goals.

Member states of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) are meeting this week for the 77th gathering of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), with much time spent thus far discussing emissions targets.

New research from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change at the University of Manchester concludes that significantly stronger short and longer-term targets need to be set for the sector to be compatible with the Paris Agreement’s goals: 34% reductions on 2008 emissions levels by 2030, and zero emissions before 2050, compared with the sector’s existing target of a 50% cut in CO2 by 2050. Crucially, strengthening the target by the IMO’s 2023 strategy revision date is imperative, something that has been deliberated extensively this week at MEPC.

The longer the delay in setting new targets, the steeper subsequent decarbonisation trajectories

Professor Alice Larkin from the University of Manchester argued that the longer the delay in setting new targets, the steeper subsequent decarbonisation trajectories.

“It has to be all hands on deck for international shipping now. Immediate action that focuses on operational change and retrofitting existing ships is needed to deliver major emissions reductions this decade, or shipping cannot deliver its fair part in meeting the Paris climate goals” she said, adding: “Delay beyond 2023 would mean the future transition for international shipping is too rapid to be feasible.”

MEPC delegates discussed the Marshall Islands’ and Solomon Islands’ resolution proposal for zero emission shipping by 2050 on Monday. In the end, just eight countries supported the zero by 2050 resolution.

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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