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T&E: IMO climate plan ‘ignores Paris Agreement’, calls upon EU to set own standards

30 Oct 2020

The global body that regulates shipping has ignored the Paris Agreement by proposing a climate plan that will see emissions from ships grow for several decades, said clean transport campaigner European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E) on Friday (30 October).

It called on the EU to set its own shipping standards as part of the European Green Deal in order to bypass the ‘ineffective’ International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

It has been 23 years since the Kyoto protocol assigned responsibility for climate-changing emissions from ships to the IMO, yet progress has been painfully slow, according to T&E.

Earlier in October, the IMO’s group on reducing greenhouse gas emissions discussed a very weak proposal aimed at reducing the carbon intensity of international shipping by 40% by 2030, compared to 2008.

Yet the proposal was watered down by the group, whose recommendations are expected to be adopted by IMO’s environment committee (Marine Environment Protection Committee) which meets for its 75th session 16-20 November.

If adopted, emissions from ships will not be capped this decade, let alone reduced; there will be no enforcement mechanisms; and there will be loopholes which will allow ships to escape penalties for non-compliance.

Even under the best-case scenario, the proposal will see emissions rise nearly 15% on the industry’s 2008 baseline; the proposed 40% reduction would itself fall a long way short of the Paris accord’s commitment to limiting global warming to 1.5/2 Celsius by 2100.

“The IMO has proved once again that it is completely ineffective in tackling shipping’s climate impact,” said T&E’s shipping programme director, Faig Abbasov.

“Governments have ridden roughshod over the Paris accord by agreeing a measure that will see ship emissions grow for decades to come. EU countries must now work through the European Green Deal to fill the gap left by the IMO.”

Because of poor progress made by the IMO between 1997 and 2015, the Paris climate accord mandated countries to address shipping at national and regional levels as part of their economy-wide climate plans.

National governments have been reluctant to take action while IMO efforts were continuing, but the Clean Shipping Coalition, which includes T&E, says the latest poor outcome from the IMO indicates it is time for more localised action.

“In pursuing this outcome at the IMO, many countries have knowingly broken their Paris agreement commitment to pursue a 1.5/2C compatible emissions reduction,” said John Maggs, president of the Clean Shipping Coalition which has observer status at the IMO.

“We urge all countries to reconsider their support for the decision ahead of MEPC75 and reject it, unless it can be fundamentally strengthened.”

The proposal likely to be adopted will fail to reduce emissions before 2023, will not cause emissions to peak emissions at the earliest opportunity, and will not set ship CO2 emissions on a pathway consistent with the Paris agreement goals. In those three ways, it waters down the IMO’s initial greenhouse gas strategy.

Abbasov added: “We cannot tell the public that progress is being made when their representatives come to the IMO just to thwart CO2 regulation to protect short-term profits, rather than protecting their own citizens from the escalating impacts of the climate crisis.”


Photo credit: International Maritime Organisation

Published: 30 October, 2020

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