The environmental NGOs of Seas at Risk claim that U.S. President Donald Trump's move to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement puts increased pressure on the IMO to act on greenhouse gas emissions.
The Paris climate deal, signed off in December 2015 by 195 countries, aims to limit global warming to well below 2C above pre industrial levels, a ceiling deemed dangerous by many scientists. Nicaragua and Syria are the only two other countries in the world that have not signed onto the agreementd.
The White House decision does not directly impact climate change talks at the IMO, as shipping was not included in the Paris Agreement. However, says Seas at Risk, with the U.S. accounting for 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, Trump’s decision raises the pressure on all major industrial sectors to deliver their fair share of carbon cuts.
Bill Hemmings, Director, Aviation and Shipping, Transport & Environment said: “The U.S. pullout puts even greater pressure on the shipping industry to act. We will be watching and pressing all IMO member states, particularly some of those flags of convenience representing such a large proportion of the world’s fleet not to backslide. Already proposals on the table from the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and others hardly deviate from business as usual. It's now or never for the IMO to act and time for the E.U. to implement an "insurance policy" should IMO fail.”
However, Dan Rutherford, marine director at the International Council on Clean Transportation, says it is unlikely that Trump's move will slow down progress in IMO. “For example, the U.S. remains bound by its promises to reduce black carbon emissions and dirty marine fuels in the Arctic. Trump’s move doesn’t change that.”
Dietmar Oeliger, Head of Transport Policy, NABU said: "Donald Trump is making a mistake ignoring the facts of climate change. He is making a mistake isolating his country from the chances that a transition to cleaner technologies and energies will deliver. That does not necessarily mean that the rest of the world and especially the IMO should follow. To the contrary, the shipping sector in many ways will be effected by climate change and must take over responsibility.”
Trump says: “As President, I can put no other consideration before the wellbeing of American citizens. The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers - who I love - and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.”
He says compliance could cost America as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025, according to a study by National Economic Research Associates.
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.