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EU Criticizes IMO Saying Emissions Are “Moving in the Wrong Direction"

Ahead of MEPC meeting, they are calling for shipping to become net zero by 2050

EU emissions targets
EU calls for shipping to be net zero by 2050 (file photo)

Published Jun 23, 2023 1:51 PM by The Maritime Executive

The European Union ahead of the upcoming IMO MEPC meeting and UN Climate Action Summit is stepping up its calls to accelerate decarbonization of the global shipping industry saying the industry must reach net-zero by 2050. During a meeting at the UN in New York, the EU delegation joined by representatives of Denmark, Palau, and Samoa, called for an ambitious consensus from the IMO while outlining the EU’s proposals for new climate targets for the shipping sector.

“It has become clear that an important source of greenhouses gas (GHG) emissions – the international shipping sector – is moving in the wrong direction,” the representatives declared during yesterday’s meeting. “This calls for intensifying the IMO’s action in the field of GHG emissions reduction, both in terms of absolute emission reduction targets and of concrete policy measures.”

Asserting that GHG emissions from shipping continue to rise, both in absolute and in relative terms, and are close to reaching three percent of all man-generated GHG emissions, the representatives staked out their position two weeks before the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) will meet in London from July 3 to 7 to adopt a revised IMO climate strategy.

EU Head of Delegation to the UN Ambassador Olof Skoog introduced the EU proposals saying that they believe it is only logical for shipping to be net zero by 2050, doubling the target from the IMO’s previous position of a 50 percent reduction in GHG emissions. The proposals look to expand on the EU’s recently adopted FuelEU for the maritime sector to provide a global framework. The IMO’s current target he said is “clearly insufficient.”

To achieve net zero by 2050, the presentation called for shipping to peak its emissions as soon as possible. The EU delegation is proposing goals for a 29 percent cut by 2030, and 83 percent by 2040, saying these would be “good interim targets.”

“The one decisive step now for July, however, is to achieve agreement on a net zero target for the shipping for 2050. This would show that the international community is serious about decarbonization,” said Skoog. 

The EU said it will propose a technical measure of a greenhouse gas fuel standard. They are also calling for an economic levy on the shipping sector’s greenhouse gas emissions while saying they would be open to discussing the use of the revenues. They suggested it would be for countries vulnerable to climate change. 

They concluded by saying that without concrete actions, the shipping industry will not have enough incentives to provide alternative fuels, including ammonia, methanol, and green hydrogen, while also investing in ships that can use these new fuels. 

The representatives are calling for strong action from the MEPC meeting saying that it would also provide momentum for the UN Climate Ambition Summit scheduled for UN General Assembly’s High Level Week in September.