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ICS Presents CO2 Plans Saying Governments and IMO Must Act

ICS presets plan for decarbonization calling on IMO and governments
(IMO photo)

Published Oct 5, 2021 7:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

In the lead-up to the UN’s climate conference and the IMO’s next round of meetings on the industry’s efforts to decarbonize, organizations continue to put forth positions. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is the latest submitting plans to the IMO detailing what the shipping organizations say are the urgent measures that governments must take to help the industry achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

Saying that it has analyzed and deliberated the issues with senior industry executives, the trade group asserts that a net-zero target by 2050 will only be plausible if governments take the necessary actions to achieve the goal. The ICS’s plans repeat the proposal the group has been advocating for with a compulsory R&D fund to develop zero-carbon technologies and the development of a carbon levy for shipping to expedite the transition to more expensive zero-carbon fuels.

“A net-zero carbon ambition is achievable by 2050. But only provided governments take the unglamorous but urgent decisions needed to manage this process within a global regulatory framework,” said Esben Poulsson, Chairman of ICS. “Talk is cheap, and action is difficult. So, our net-zero offering sets out the how as well as the what for decarbonizing shipping by 2050. We’re saying to governments that if they really want to reach net-zero, they need to move from empty commitments to tangible action.”

Given the typical 25-year life of new oceangoing ships, if the industry is to meet an ambitious net-zero target, thousands of zero-emission ships will need to be in the water by 2030, the ICS says in its proposal. They believe that is critical for the IMO to adopt those urgent measures required to accelerate an increase in technology readiness levels. 

A key step the ICS proposes is for governments to approve the establishment of the $5 billion IMO Maritime Research Fund. Groups from within the shipping industry have been advocating for the R&D fund and in June at its last meeting the IMO’s committee agreed to review the concept. According to the ICS, the fund is required to provide the funding needed to accelerate the development of zero-emission ships. It would be funded by mandatory R&D contributions from shipowners globally, via a $2.00 levy, which the organizations say should be put in place by 2023. However, some regulators and industry observers have said that the fund would disadvantage small operators. 

To expedite the transition to net-zero, ICS has also made a comprehensive proposal setting out the architecture for a broader carbon levy applicable to shipping, which will be considered by IMO Member States at a meeting in mid-October. According to the ICS, their proposal would help close the price gap between zero-carbon and conventional fuels and could be used to provide the billions of dollars needed to deploy essential new bunkering infrastructure required in ports worldwide.

“If a net-zero target is to be more than a political gesture, governments need to recognize the magnitude of the challenge of phasing-out CO2 emissions from large oceangoing ships,” said Guy Platten, Secretary General of the ICS. “Only these proposed measures can tackle the innovation and knowledge gap, and challenges of a global equitable transition, that shipping’s decarbonization presents.”

The ICS’s proposals however will be competing for attention with various others including the EU’s efforts at adding the shipping industry to its carbon trading scheme. Pacific islands, including the Marshall Islands, Solomons, Fiji that are among the worst impacted by rising sea levels, demanded the IMO adopt a harsher $100 per ton fee on emissions. Other proposals are also likely to be presented before the upcoming hotly debated sessions.