IMO paves way for rising GHG emissions from shipping

By approving a proposal that will allow the shipping sector’s 1 billion tonnes of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to keep rising for the rest of this decade, governments have backtracked on their own commitments, according to environmental organisations. The decision was taken at a key meeting of the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee during 16–20 November.

As acknowledged by many countries in the talks, the approved proposal breaks the initial IMO GHG strategy in three crucial ways. It will fail to reduce emissions before 2023, will not peak emissions as soon as possible, and will not set shipping CO₂ emissions on a pathway consistent with the Paris Agreement goals.

Nations and regions serious about facing the climate crisis must now take immediate national and regional action to curb ship emissions, the environmental NGOs said. Nations should act swiftly to set carbon equivalent intensity regulations consistent with the Paris Agreement for ships calling at their ports; require ships to report and pay for their pollution where they dock, and start to create low- and zero-emission priority shipping corridors.

Source: Joint statement from Pacific Environment, WWF and the Clean Shipping Coalition, 17 November 2020.

In this issue


The clock is ticking to achieve the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement. To be clear right from the start: this goal deserves every effort that mankind can pull off. In the name of realism, this is the goal we must focus on now, given the current level of progress in reducing greenhouse gases. However, damage to marine ecosystems will not be avoided even if we reach this goal1. In fact, damage already occurs at current levels of warming, as evidenced by the bleaching of coral reefs2. This may be an inconvenient truth when our current goal is 1.5°C.

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