UN shipping body – the IMO – shelves target for the sector’s CO2 emissions till “a future date”
Date added: May 14, 2015
The carbon emissions from global international shipping are around the same size as those from international aviation (but without the additional non-CO2 impacts of emissions at altitude). They are each responsible for about 2 to 3% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Shipping has a carbon footprint equivalent to Germany or Japan. Both sectors are left out of the carbon inventories of countries, as means to include them have not been agreed. Both sectors have been very slow to reach any agreement to cut CO2. Now at recent talks, the body given the task of working on emissions, the IMP (International Maritime Organisation) has said it will not offer a emissions reduction target towards a global climate deal in Paris this December. Delegates agreed only to address “at an appropriate future date” a proposal from the Marshall Islands to curb greenhouse gases in the sector. Under business as usual, the IMO’s own research shows shipping emissions are set to rise 50-250% by 2050, as a growing population boosts demand. With countries targeting emissions cuts, shipping’s share of the emissions space will grow even faster – up to 14% (compared to 2 – 3% now). Aviation is also expected to grow in a similar manner, unless the ICAO finds a mechanism to cut this. . Tweet
UN shipping body shelves emissions target
Marshall Islands plea for climate action falls on deaf ears at IMO, leaving CO2 to rise unchecked
Shipping is responsible for 2-3% of global greenhouse gas emissions
By Megan Darby
The UN shipping body will not offer an emissions reduction target towards a global climate deal in Paris this December.
That was the upshot of a debate at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London on Wednesday.
Delegates agreed only to address “at an appropriate future date” a proposal from the Marshall Islands to curb greenhouse gases in the sector.
“The question still remains: Is the IMO committed to reduce emissions?” said Bill Hemmings of the Cleaner Seas Coalition.
“The answer has not been given a clear yes. I think that is a very unfortunate reflection on this house.”
Shipping has a carbon footprint equivalent to Germany or Japan.
Under business as usual, the IMO’s own research shows shipping emissions are set to rise 50-250% by 2050, as a growing population boosts demand.
With countries targeting emissions cuts, shipping’s share of the emissions space will grow even faster – up to 14%.
Marshall Islands foreign minister Tony de Brum made a personal appeal to delegates to play their part in global climate efforts.
An archipelago of low-lying coral atolls, the Marshall Islands is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise and tropical storm surges linked to climate change.
It is also the world’s third largest shipping registry and depends on the ocean for much of its economy.
“The very water that sustains us is lapping at our heels and threatening our survival,” said de Brum.
He called for “all hands on deck to face the greatest challenge we have ever faced”.
Other Pacific island states gave the proposal their full support.
But while there were many expressions of sympathy, most countries including the US, China and Panama declined to back a target.
Nor did EU member states come through, despite the European Commission declaring its support.
Instead they urged a focus on existing efforts to regulate energy efficiency.
Koji Sekimizu, IMO secretary general, was also ambivalent. He spoke of “solidarity” with the Marshall Islands but stopped short of backing its proposal.
“The shipping industry is a servant to the world community and trade,” he said. “We will ensure that efficiency will be improved and we will ensure that the reduction will be achieved for ship-based emissions.”
The IMO has imposed an energy efficiency design standard on new ships. For existing ships, it has agreed to monitor fuel consumption with a view to potential policy interventions in future.
Yet on Tuesday, negotiators were still at odds over how to collect and use data from ships.
The UN climate body is aiming to limit warming to 2C above pre-industrial temperatures. Vulnerable countries argue the goal should be tightened to 1.5C.
The global fleet must get at least twice as efficient by 2030 if shipping is to play its part in a 2C world, the researchers found.
Tristan Smith, energy and transport expert at UCL, said: “The planning for change cannot start soon enough, if it’s going to have a minimum of disruption on international shipping and global trade.”
Writing before the IMO debate, Carbon War Room head Jose Maria Figueres argued an emissions target would bring “substantial business opportunities”.
He cited research from UCL and CE Delft showing the most efficient ships use 30-50% less fuel than average.
“Efficiency makes good business sense,” he said, and low carbon technology is available.
Experts told RTCC the emissions target debate would be back on the table next year at the earliest, if the Paris deal sends a clear signal.
UN climate chief Christiana Figueres gave no indication she would intervene, however. In a phone conference, she said international emissions were outside her domain and the two bodies would run in parallel “at least in the foreseeable future”.
The Committee on Climate Change says international shipping emissions should be included in the UK’s overall carbon reduction strategy, as should those from international aviation. Neither sector is currently included in the UK’s 5 year carbon budgets. These budgets are due to be reviewed in 2016.
The Committee for Climate Change has reported that by 2050 greenhouse gas emissions from the maritime industry could amount to as much as 11% of the UK’s Carbon Budget, as agreed under the 2008 Climate Change Act – and warns that this level is too large to be ignored.
Global shipping emissions set to rise unchecked
17 October 2014, 3:14 pm
Greenhouse gas emissions from shipping will rise up to 250% by 2050, finds study, if the UN fails to regulate the sector
Shipping is responsible for a billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year, a little more than Germany.
Its share of global emissions fell from 3.2% in 2007 to 2.5% in 2012, according to the latest figures approved by the UN’s International Maritime Organization.
But with no strategy to curb emissions, they are set to rise 50-250% by 2050, depending on the rate of economic growth.
In his opening remarks to an IMO conference in London this week, secretary-general Koji Sekimizu made clear that growth would take priority over emissions reductions.
“Shipping has a great potential for growth to meet the demand of the world economy but shipping has also, a great potential to significantly reduce GHG emissions, while achieving further growth of maritime transport,” he said.
Bill Hemmings, of pressure group Transport & Environment, told RTCC the recent dip in emissions had more to do with the financial crisis than environmental regulations.
The economic downturn led to lower demand and shipping companies took to “slow steaming” – running at less than full speed – to reduce fuel costs.
“That is all very welcome, but it does not change the underlying facts,” said Hemmings. “Shipping is on track for a very large increase in emissions to 2050.”
The IMO has made some indirect steps to limit emissions, the main one being energy efficiency design standards for new ships.
It also requires all operating ships to have energy efficiency management plans, but sets no minimum standard for the content of these.
As ships often operate for 30 years or more, fuel consumption of the existing fleet will continue to be a major contributor to emissions.
The industry is resisting further regulations, says Hemmings, with the support of “flag states” that make a lot of money from registering ships.
“Industry are saying: ‘we do what we have to do, which is be the servants of world trade, and we are not going to be regulated in a way that slows growth’.”
While some “enlightened” member states are working hard to promote action, he said they had come no closer to resolving the argument at this week’s meeting.
Leading flag states include Panama, Liberia, the Marshall Islands, Hong Kong and Singapore, according to 2013 UN data.
Efforts to tackle emissions head on, with a carbon tax or market, have been held back by a fundamental conflict between UN institutions.
The IMO and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) run on different principles.
The former, being mainly concerned with activity outside national boundaries, insists on “no more favourable treatment” for one country over another.
The latter works with ”common but differentiated responsibility” for emissions cuts, requiring developed countries to shoulder most of the burden.
There have been suggestions to overcome this, with a universal levy on emissions to satisfy the IMO and the revenue distributed to poor countries by a UNFCCC fund. But these have yet to get anywhere.
Tristan Smith, shipping expert at University College London and co-author of the greenhouse gas report, said any action would depend on getting better data from ships.
Putting in place strong reporting and monitoring regimes could take years. Then there would need to be pilot projects, said Smith.
“Nothing is going to happen before 2020. The only thing that could possibly change that is some radical outcome in Paris next year.”
He was referring to the 2015 climate conference at which negotiators are due to strike a global deal.
But for shipping to come to that table with no plan to tackle emissions is “not a credible position to take”, argued Hemmings.
Shipping emissions should be included in UK carbon budgets
Shipping emissions should be included in the UK’s overall carbon reduction strategy, according to an influential body that advises the British government.
The Committee for Climate Change has reported that that by 2050 greenhouse gas emissions from the maritime industry could amount to as much as 11% of the UK’s Carbon Budget, as agreed under the 2008 Climate Change Act – and warns that this level is too large to be ignored.
Proposals to cut shipping and airline emissions are expected to be high on the agenda during COP17 in Durban. They were avoided during previous UN negotiations as it is difficult to work out which countries are directly responsible for these discharges.
Under the Climate Change Act, the UK is committed to cutting carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Currently shipping and aviation are excluded from the targets, but the Act stipulates Parliament must make a decision on whether to include the two industries by the end of 2012.
The Committee call for the UK government to include the emissions from shipping in their 2050 targets, but warn this will mean harsher cuts on other industries including motoring and electricity generatation.
Shipping currently accounts for between 12 and 16 MtCO2 – based upon half of all emissions from ships leaving and arriving at British docks, with the other half coming from the country at the other end of the journey.
David Kennedy, Chief Executive of the CCC said: “Our report highlights the degree of uncertainty over current and future shipping emissions and the need to resolve this. However, it is clear that shipping emissions could well be significant and so cannot be ignored – they should be included under the Climate Change Act.”
The CCC report sets out three alternative recommendations for the government:
– Including shipping emissions in the 2050 target and budgets immediately. – Including them when an accurate methodology has been made. – Including them in the target now and in the carbon budgets only when progress has been made on methodology.
The committee will put its formal recommendation on shipping and aviation to the government next year.
The report says there are many ways for shipping to cut emissions including improving fuel efficiency, deploying sails, improving the efficiency of the routes used and the speed travelled at or implementing additional energy sources including solar, wind or biomass.
Earlier this year, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) came up with a series of energy efficiency targets for new ships, but the CCC believe there is scope to reduce emissions further.
The report argues that to reduce economy-wide costs for abatement, the government should be arguing for international policies going beyond what the IMO has currently agreed, such as including international shipping within an emissions trading or carbon tax scheme.
Set to be a hot topic at the forthcoming climate conference in Durban, the CCC believes an international deal could be done through the IMO or the UNFCCC, but if an agreement can not be met this year, it urges the UK government to work with the EU towards inclduing international shipping under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.
The UK Chamber of Shipping, which worked with the CCC on its analysis, welcomes the report but highlights the need for any such trading or tax scheme to be done at a global level.
David Balston, Director Safety & Environment at the UK Chamber of Shipping said; “We do stress that any solution must be global rather than regional to avoid distorting world trade and potentially damaging an industry that is vital to the future prosperity of the United Kingdom.”
Read the full Committee on Climate Change Report here.