Maritime Nations Agree to Cut CO2 Emissions

The agreement brings “another major constituency on board in the international quest" to reduce global warming.
Matthew HellerApril 16, 2018

The United Nations body charged with regulating shipping has reached a landmark agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships, although its target fell short of some members’ hopes.

The International Maritime Organization’s agreement brings “another major constituency on board in the international quest to cap the planet’s warming well below an increase of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit),” The Washington Post said.

Under the standard adopted in London after weeks of negotiations, the group’s members are aiming to halve annual GHG emissions by 2050 compared to 2008, “while, at the same time, pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely.”

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Shipping in recent years has been responsible for about 800 million tons annually of carbon dioxide emissions, or 2.3% of the global total, according to Dan Rutherford, the marine and aviation program director of the International Council on Clean Transportation.

The emissions from shipping are equivalent to those from the entire country of Germany, according to the latest European Union data available, and are predicted to grow significantly if left unchecked.

The shipping industry was not included in the Paris Agreement to combat change, which would require full decarbonization by 2050 in order to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Climate advocates noted that the IMO’s 50% emissions reduction falls short of the Paris goal. EU countries along with the Marshall Islands, the world’s second-biggest ship registry, had supported a goal of cutting emissions by 70% to 100% by 2050, compared with 2008 levels.

“The IMO should and could have gone a lot further,” Bill Hemmings, shipping director with green campaigners Transport & Environment, told Reuters.

But the Baltic and International Maritime Council, the world’s biggest shipping consortium, celebrated the agreement.

“IMO has done something no one has done before: set an absolute target for emission reductions for an entire industry. It is a landmark achievement in the effort to reduce emissions, and something that every other industry should look to for inspiration,” Lars Robert Pedersen, the group’s deputy secretary general, said in a statement.