The shipping industry contributes 2-3% of global GHG emissions, roughly the same as Germany. However, much like the aviation industry, it was not included in the Paris Agreement 2015 which requires nations to set out mitigation and adaptation GHG targets.
The UN International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is meeting in London this week (9th – 13th April) to discuss its emissions strategy. This was first proposed back in 1997 following Kyoto, but nothing materialised. This $4 trillion industry, which carries 90% of world trade, could also carry a fifth of global GHG emissions by 2050 if left unchecked as the industry grows while countries and industries work towards the Paris 1.5oC target by reducing and offsetting their emissions. In 2014, the IMO found that its carbon emissions could grow by 250% if action is not taken. Following this trend, the OECD found that the industry would have the emissions equivalent of over 200 coal power stations by 2035.
NGO Transparency International has raised concerns over conflicts of interest and a lack of transparency in the discussions. 43.5% of IMO’s funding comes from just 5 states: Panama, Liberia, the Marshall Islands, Malta and the Bahamas. Here, half of the world’s ships are registered.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called for an ambitious agreement to make the sector “cleaner and greener”, but how far will the final plan, expected in 2023, go?
The EU supports a goal of reductions between 70-100% by 2050, while Norway has called for a 50% reduction by this date and Japan supports a reduction of 50% by 2060. The Secretary General of IMO Kitack Lim said that postponing an initial strategy “should not be an option”, and MEP Bas Eickhout declared, that should they fail in doing so, “countries will have to take their own actions”.
So, how can these targets be met?
The Good Shipping Program suggests a sustainable advanced biofuel instead of burning black carbon. Could this be advanced by businesses and consumers wanting a greener supply chain? The Smart Green Shipping Alliance makes a case for 100% renewable powered ships with the “attractive economic attributes” of a free, abundant and exclusive power source.
One thing is for sure. Where it is not possible to reduce CO2 emissions within the industry, whether it be at the highest level of the IMO or the smallest private ship, CO2balance can provide Gold Standard carbon credits to offset these emissions. All of our projects work towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, so offsetting your emissions (shipping or otherwise) with CO2balance not only reduces CO2 emissions and help reach the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement, but also helps achieve goals of Good Health, Gender Equality, Clean Water and Infrastructure for rural communities in countries including Uganda, Malawi and Eritrea.