ICS commits shipping to tough CO2 reduction aims

The International Chamber of Shipping has arrived at ambitious CO2 reduction objectives that will align it with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Among the objectives agreed to at the ICS Annual General Meeting in Istanbul last week are a commitment to maintain international shipping’s annual total CO2 emissions below 2008 levels;

To reduce CO2 emissions per tonne-km, as an average across international shipping, by at least 50% by 2015, compared to 2008; and

To reduce international shipping’s total annual C02 emissions by an agreed percentage by 2050, compared to 2008, as a point on a continuing trajectory of CO2 emissions reduction.

According to the 2014 IMO GHG Study, international shipping emitted 921 million tonnes of CO2 in 2008. As a result of technical and operational measures, this figure declined by 13% to less than 800 million tonnes of CO2 in 2012 or 2.2% of the world’s total CO2 emissions. In the absence of additional CO2 reduction measures however, total CO2 from international shipping is currently projected by IMO to increase above 2008 levels due to additional demand for maritime transport.

Speaking in Istanbul, ICS Chairman, Esben Poulsson, commented: “It is very important that IMO sends a clear and unambiguous signal to the global community that shipping’s regulators have agreed some ambitious objectives, with numbers and dates, for reducing the sector’s CO2 emissions, in the same way that land-based activity is now covered by government commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

ICS wants IMO to remain in control of additional measures to address CO2 reduction by ships and to develop a global solution, rather than risk the danger of market-distorting measures at national or regional level.

“Shipping has a very good story to tell about reducing CO2 but this is difficult to convey so long as there is no clear signal from IMO as to what our collective CO2 reduction objectives should be” said Mr Poulsson.

ICS will suggest that IMO should adopt these objectives as part of the initial IMO CO2 reduction strategy to be agreed in 2018.

Acknowledging concerns of developing nations about the possible impacts of CO2 reduction for trade and sustainable development, ICS emphasises that any objectives adopted by IMO must not imply any commitment to place a binding cap on the sector’s total CO2 emissions or on the CO2 emissions of individual ships.

“Dramatic CO2 reductions alongside increasing trade can only be achieved with the development of alternative fossil-free fuels – something which needs to be identified by the IMO strategy,” Mr Poulsson emphasised.

“The long term future of the industry, like the rest of the world economy, must eventually be fossil fuel free. The trajectory for getting there, not least the development of alternative fuels, could well take us several decades. But this will only be achieved if the industry itself pushes for the adoption by IMO of some suitably ambitious objectives so that all concerned are under no illusion about the scale of the task ahead,” he concluded.

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