The chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping has warned the EU must give up overambitious ship-derived CO2 reduction targets or put at risk an agreement on a meaningful strategy going forward. Mr Esben Poulsson chose his moment to throw down the gauntlet ahead of critical meetings at the International Maritime Organization starting on 3 April.
“Agreement upon a mid-century objective for the total reduction of CO2 emissions by the sector, regardless of trade growth, will be vital to discourage unilateral action and to provide the signal needed to stimulate the development of zero CO2 fuels” Mr Poulsson added. “But the very high level of ambition proposed by certain EU Member States – a 70% to 100% total cut in emissions before 2050 – is unlikely to achieve consensus support,” he said.
Mr Poulsson added: “While ICS does not fully agree with them in every respect, alternative proposals made by China and Japan merit serious consideration and could form the basis of a possible compromise. China in particular seems to have made a real effort to move away from its previous opposition to establishing CO2 reduction goals for the sector’s total emissions. If EU nations want a global agreement they should acknowledge this by similarly modifying their own positions.”
“A mid-century objective similar to that proposed by Japan – which might also enjoy support from nations like China if EU nations were willing to compromise – would still provide a compelling signal to the industry. This should also be sufficient to stimulate the development of zero CO2 fuels leading to a 100% CO2 reduction in line with the ambitious vision which IMO must agree” said Mr Poulsson.
ICS and other industry associations have previously proposed the need for an ambitious vision in the IMO strategy, making it clear that the ultimate goal is the elimination of all CO2 emissions from international shipping (i.e. 100% reduction) sometime between 2050 and 2100, or as soon as the worldwide availability of zero CO2 fuels makes this possible.
In advance of zero CO2 fuels becoming available globally, the industry has also proposed that IMO should adopt the following objectives:
Objective 1 – to maintain international shipping’s annual total CO2 emissions below 2008 levels;
Objective 2 – to reduce CO2 emissions per tonne-km, as an average across international shipping, by at least 50% by 2050, compared to 2008; and
Objective 3 – reduce international shipping’s total annual CO2 emissions by an agreed percentage by 2050, compared to 2008, as a point on a continuing trajectory of CO2 emissions reduction.
Those objectives are unlikely to sit well with the European Commission. The ICS is unlikely to prevail without a struggle. Just last week EU leaders directed the EC to produce a long-term climate strategy by the first quarter of 2019, updating the low-carbon economy roadmap drafted in 2011.
The EU has a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80%, agreed when the international goal was to restruct global warming to 2C. The subsequent Paris Agreement pushed for greater efforts to contain temperature rises to a possible. 1.5C.
Today, Bill Hemmings, director Aviation and Shipping at the Transport & Environment (T&E) pressure group in Brussels offered a spirited response through hongkongmaritimehub.com to the ICS demands:
“The April meetings starting next week are the last chance for the member states of the IMO and the shipping sector to respond to the Paris Agreement’s goal of global warming not exceeding 1.5C. This target is a given. The question is how the IMO and the shipping sector will respond. Hitherto the shipping industry has largely ducked this question by saying the decision is one for states to decide.
“But now the ICS chairman Mr Esben Poulsson, casting aside all caution and reverting to the industry’s tested backroom role, which determines most all of what happens at the IMO, cast his lot with China and Japan versus a high ambition coalition of states and environmental NGOs. In just one breath the ICS calls for ambition while touting the Japanese and Chinese proposals that will sink the entire Paris Agreement.
“Japan’s proposal will overshoot shipping’s 1.5C carbon budget by a whopping 21Gt – 15 times bigger than Japan’s total annual CO2 emissions. It will also see ship emissions continuing for many years beyond 2060. Because full decarbonization is not even envisaged by the target year – 2060. China is against setting any long-term reduction target altogether at this stage. The ICS position is an abrogation of responsibility. Others who recognize that the sector can decarbonize now need to stand firm with the Paris Agreement,” Mr Hemmings insisted.