IMO Commits to Cutting Emissions at COP25
The IMO has presented its latest work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping to the UN climate change conference (COP25) currently underway in Spain.
IMO's initial GHG strategy contains a commitment to cutting GHG emissions from shipping as a matter of urgency and to phasing them out entirely as soon as possible. The IMO told the conference that the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) has approved draft amendments to strengthen the energy efficiency design requirements for new ships; and an intersessional working group meeting has considered various mandatory proposals aimed at reducing the carbon intensity of existing ships. Further development of concrete proposals is expected at the next intersessional working group and MEPC meetings in March-April 2020.
The IMO aims to make it clear that international shipping is indispensable to the world and is a vital industry to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It also aims to demonstrate that it is the appropriate international body to continue work to address GHG emissions from ships engaged in international trade.
The IMO's mandatory requirement for data collection on fuel oil consumption of ships is reaching its first full year of reporting; and the fourth IMO GHG study has been initiated, to provide an updated inventory of GHG emissions from international shipping.
In addition to its work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping, the IMO is regulating climate change mitigation technologies, including carbon capture and storage in sub-seabed geological formations and marine geoengineering, through the London Convention and the London Protocol, to ensure protection of the marine environment.
World Meteorological Organization Statement
At COP25, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) stated that 2019 concludes a decade of exceptional global heat, retreating ice and record sea levels driven by greenhouse gases from human activities. Average temperatures for the five-year (2015-2019) and 10-year (2010-2019) periods are almost certain to be the highest on record. 2019 is on course to be the second or third warmest year on record.
The WMO provisional statement on the State of the Global Climate, says that the global average temperature in 2019 (January to October) was about 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period.
Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a record level of 407.8 parts per million in 2018 and continued to rise in 2019. CO2 lasts in the atmosphere for centuries and the ocean for even longer, thus locking in climate change. Sea level rise has accelerated since the start of satellite measurements in 1993 because of the melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, according to the report.
“The ocean, which acts as a buffer by absorbing heat and carbon dioxide, is paying a heavy price. Ocean heat is at record levels and there have been widespread marine heatwaves. Sea water is 26 percent more acidic than at the start of the industrial era. Vital marine ecosystems are being degraded.”
The daily Arctic sea-ice extent minimum in September 2019 was the second lowest in the satellite record and October has seen further record low extents. In Antarctica, 2019 saw record low ice extents in some months.
“If we do not take urgent climate action now, then we are heading for a temperature increase of more than 3°C by the end of the century, with ever more harmful impacts on human well-being,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “We are nowhere near on track to meet the Paris Agreement target.”
Carbon Emissions Tracking
Also at COP25, Global Carbon Project published its annual report tracking carbon emissions. Despite a decline in coal use, emissions are rising due to growth in natural gas and oil use. The report indicates that current government emissions policies are too weak to achieve the “well below 2°C” global warming limit set out in Paris.