ICS Looks to Asia Not Europe for CO2 Leadership

Credit: Diamantino Rosa
Credit: Diamantino Rosa

By MarEx 2018-03-26 17:54:52

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) says that governments must compromise to help the IMO agree a strategy for the further reduction of CO2 emissions by shipping that will match the expectations of the Paris Agreement on climate change.  

The call comes ahead of critical meetings at the IMO which commence next month. The Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships, which holds its third meeting April 3-6, is expected to finalize the text of the draft initial strategy and provide a report to MEPC 72 which begins on April 9.  

The strategy is expected to set out the future vision for international shipping, the levels of ambition to reduce GHG emissions and guiding principles. It will include candidate short-, mid- and long-term measures with possible timelines.

ICS Chairman, Esben Poulsson, says: “Agreement upon a mid-century objective for the total reduction of CO2 emissions by the sector, regardless of trade growth, will be vital to discourage unilateral action and to provide the signal needed to stimulate the development of zero CO2 fuels,” Poulsson added. “But the very high level of ambition proposed by certain E.U. Member States – a 70 to 100 percent total cut in emissions before 2050 – is unlikely to achieve consensus support.

“While ICS does not fully agree with them in every respect, alternative proposals made by China and Japan merit serious consideration and could form the basis of a possible compromise. China in particular seems to have made a real effort to move away from its previous opposition to establishing CO2 reduction goals for the sector’s total emissions. If E.U. nations want a global agreement they should acknowledge this by similarly modifying their own positions.”   

In a briefing note to its member national shipowners’ associations, ICS suggests that if IMO was to set an initial objective of cutting the sector’s total CO2 emissions by, for example, 50 percent, rather than 70 to 100 percent, this would still require a major improvement in ship efficiency over business as usual. When account is taken of the anticipated growth in maritime trade, ICS says this would still only be possible with the widespread use of zero CO2 fuels. 

“A mid-century objective similar to that proposed by Japan – which might also enjoy support from nations like China if E.U. nations were willing to compromise – would still provide a compelling signal to the industry. This should also be sufficient to stimulate the development of zero CO2 fuels leading to a 100 percent CO2 reduction in line with the ambitious vision which IMO must agree,” said Poulsson.   

ICS has previously made it clear that the ultimate goal is the elimination of all CO2 emissions from international shipping (i.e. 100 percent reduction) sometime between 2050 and 2100 or as soon as the worldwide availability of zero CO2 fuels makes this possible. In advance of zero CO2 fuels becoming available globally, the industry has also proposed that IMO should adopt the following objectives:  

Objective 1 – to maintain international shipping’s annual total CO2 emissions below 2008 levels;

Objective 2 – to reduce CO2 emissions per ton-km, as an average across international shipping, by at least 50 percent by 2050, compared to 2008; and 

Objective 3 – reduce international shipping's total annual CO2 emissions by an agreed percentage by 2050, compared to 2008, as a point on a continuing trajectory of CO2 emissions reduction.