SSI calls for ‘substantive’ conclusion on shipping emissions target

Global shipping coalition the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) has warned that the lack of a definitive conclusion at a recent International Maritime Organisation (IMO) meeting has decreased the likelihood of a binding agreement on future industry emissions reduction targets.

The SSI has claimed that last week’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee meeting (MEPC 69) failed to achieve a required minimum outcome for a framework on greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions in line with targets agreed at the Paris COP21 summit last December.

The coalition is concerned that the shipping industry’s reputation could diminish to the point where reduction targets are eventually mandated outside the IMO’s regulatory framework unless the sector begins to actively engage in contributing to reducing global emissions.

SSI chief executive Alastair Fischbacher said: “Although the debate at MEPC 69 has taken a step forward, it is not substantive enough and falls short of both external expectations and even internal ambition from a large number of the members.

“A number of parties, including two of the three biggest flag registries, were supportive of the IMO developing a framework for emissions reduction as soon as possible. But this was not enough to counter some strong opposition to proposals and in some cases to any further work.”

Sink or swim

The issue of GHG emissions reduction will continue at MEPC 70 in October 2016, where the committee will explore whether it will be possible to develop a work plan that will help to identify its long-term objectives. Fischbacher believes the IMO must use the upcoming meeting to take responsibility with the rest of the world in meeting global warming reduction targets.

Fischbacher continued: “While some progress has been made, the failure to agree a process for emissions reduction puts significant pressure on generating a positive outcome at MEPC 70 in October. 

“The shipping industry cannot go to COP 22 in Morocco without this. Not only will it damage the industry’s reputation, it also runs the risk of external regulators taking the matter into their own hands and circumnavigating the IMO, which no-one in the industry wants to see.”

Troubled waters

The latest SSI reaction follows the coalition’s request before the MEPC 69 meeting for the IMO to develop a fast-track plan to facilitate the formal agreement and implementation of significant and early emissions reductions for shipping.

The initial plea was issued at the same time as an announcement of figures showing that, if left unchecked, emissions from shipping will increase up to 250% by 2050 – a rate of growth distinctly incompatible with the ambitious CO2 reductions target agreed at the COP 21 meeting in Paris.

Last year, a New Climate Economy report revealed that while the world’s aviation and maritime sectors are currently responsible for around 5% of global emissions, that figure was growing rapidly and total emissions between the two sectors could rise three-fold by 2050.

George Ogleby

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