Governments commit to compromised climate targets for shipping
The IMO has adopted new greenhouse gas emissions targets that will see shipping reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2030, 70% by 2040 and reach net zero by 2050
After intensive negotiations, the 175 member states of the IMO have agreed to decarbonise the global shipping industry by 2050, but the vague wording of ‘indicative checkpoints’ rather than absolute emission reductions has left environmental groups critical of the loosely worded targets
THE International Maritime Organization has adopted more ambitious climate targets to reach net-zero emissions by or around 2050, while also agreeing to indicative checkpoints of greenhouse gas emission reductions by at least 20%, striving for 30% by 2030 as well as at least 70% by 2040, striving for 80%, with all targets from a 2008 baseline.
IMO member states have also agreed to develop a global marine fuel standard as a technical measure regulating the phased reduction of the marine fuel’s GHG intensity.
They have also agreed to develop a maritime GHG emissions pricing mechanism.
These basket of mid-term measures will be finalised and agreed by the Marine Environment Protection Committee by 2025 and the measures will enter into force 16 months after the adoption, according to the agreement.
Comprehensive impact assessments of these measures will be finalised by autumn 2024.
“It is essential that IMO now focuses on adopting mandatory global marine fuel standard. We can’t afford to stretch this out with a lengthy process,” said Vanuatu’s delegate.
Member states also agreed to a 5% uptake of zero or near-zero GHG emission technologies, fuels or energy sources to be used by international shipping by 2030, striving for 10%.
While the agreement has been welcomed by industry groups as a workable compromise, environmental lobby groups have already criticised the vague wording of the agreement, branding the text as a weak compromise.
States failed to agree on absolute emission reduction targets for 2030 and 2040, but instead identified “indicative checkpoints”. The strategy also aims to reach only net-zero “by or around, i.e., close to 2050”, depending on “national circumstances”, leaving significant room for countries to avoid targets.
“We had hoped for a strategy completely aligned with 1.5°C, not one that merely keeps it in reach. We are not there yet,” said a delegate from Kiribati.
Ahead of MEPC80, the US, the UK and Canada had called for a 37% emissions reduction by 2030, while the EU countries proposed 29% by the same date. Two of the less progressive proposals from Japan and South Korea, had suggested targets for 2030.
Targets recommended by the US, the UK and Canada were aligned with the Science Based Targets Initiative’s suggestions.
Some environmental groups had called for a 50% emissions reduction targets by 2030, citing a recent study that suggested this target was possible with higher uptake of zero-emission fuels as well as higher speed reductions and other measures including wind propulsion.
“These higher targets are the result of relentless, unceasing lobbying by ambitious Pacific islands, against the odds. Now our focus shifts to getting them delivered. We look forward to swift agreement on a just and equitable economic measure to price shipping’s emissions and bend the emissions curve fast enough to keep 1.5°C alive.” said Albon Ishoda, ambassador of the Marshall Islands in South Korea and lead representative to the IMO.