Climate campaigners accuse shipping industry of “trying to run away from regulation”

Madeleine Cuff writes on the inews website about the supposed lack of ambition in the policy under preparation to reduce GHG emissions.


Climate curbs on high-polluting ships face ’10 years of delay’ from shipping industry

If shipping were a country, it would be the sixth-largest polluter on the planet. But weak regulations could see pollution rise over the next decade

Climate campaigners have accused the shipping industry of “trying to run away from regulation” as nations gather to discuss a greenhouse gas reduction strategy for the sector.

The sector will spend next week thrashing out a policy to curb shipping emissions before 2030, but non-governmental organisations say the draft options on the table are so weak that they will in fact lead to emissions rising over the next decade.

The draft policy, seen by i, is backed by a host of European countries, alongside China, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and the International Chamber of Shipping. Under the rules, ships would be rated A to E for their efficiency when in the water. All ships rated D or E would need to make improvements, or risk losing their permission to sail. But such punishment would not come into force until 2029 or 2030.

The rules will be discussed at an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) virtual working group next week, and could be finalised next month.

Deal ‘will see emissions rise’

John Maggs, the president of the Clean Shipping Coalition, said the proposal amounts to “10 years of delay”, adding: “What is being proposed will allow emissions to rise. There is no doubt about that at all.”

Most industrial ships run on highly polluting “bunker” fuel, made from the dregs of the oil refining process. If shipping were a country, it would be the sixth-largest polluter on the planet. But alongside aviation, shipping is not covered by the Paris climate agreement, under which nations have collectively promised to cut emissions. Instead the IMO is responsible for co-ordinating industry-wide climate action.

In 2018, the IMO said shipping would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2050, the first time it has ever promised to reduce its pollution output outright. As part of that goal, the IMO said shipping would take action before 2030 to curb pollution, and said emissions should peak as soon as possible.

Regressive measure

Madeline Rose, the climate campaign director for US group Pacific Environment, said that under the draft proposals shipping would be going back on its word. “It’s a violation of their own strategy and it’s effectively a regressive measure in terms of climate action. It will do nothing to curb shipping’s climate emissions until the end of this decade,” she said.  “The industry is still trying to run away from regulation, and we don’t have the time to allow them to do that any more.”

Research by University College London indicates that shipping emissions could indeed rise under the draft policy. Unless Covid-19 has a lasting impact on global demand, the sector’s absolute emissions could rise 15 per cent above 2008 levels by the end of the decade, the paper warns.

The IMO insists it that has taken mandatory action to curb shipping emissions since 2011, and that policy is reached by agreement of all 174 member states.

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2 thoughts on “Climate campaigners accuse shipping industry of “trying to run away from regulation”

  1. What this valuable article fails to mention is that the Paris Agreement on climate change makes no references at all to any reduction targets for the shipping industry

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