Industry Divided on Importance of COP21 Text

COP21 delegates

By MarEx 2015-12-10 16:48:15

European shipowners have joined the European Commission, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and various stakeholders in calling for shipping to be brought back in the text currently negotiated in the context of the COP21 climate talks in Paris.

“The talks in Paris are a unique opportunity to give a clear signal to the member states of the IMO that they need to act decisively in order to further regulate CO2 emissions from ships on a global level. It would provide support for their ability to move forward and give new impetus to ongoing discussions, which we hope will very soon reach fruition,” said Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA Secretary General.

Shipping, together with aviation, had been included in earlier versions of the draft agreement on climate change. The latest version however, which was released yesterday, makes no reference to these two industries.

The IMO has already made strides when it comes to the shipping industry’s carbon footprint. In 2011 it adopted universal measures that made shipping the first industrial sector to have a binding global regime in place to reduce its CO2 emissions. Entered into force in 2013, they require a gradual improvement of energy efficiency for newly built ships through intermediary targets, culminating in the requirement that all ships constructed after 2025 be 30 percent more efficient that those built in the 2000s.

However, the IMO’s work on CO2 emissions reduction is far from completed, says Verhoeven. It remains firmly on its agenda and will be considered again at the next meeting of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee in April 2016. The shipping industry supports the establishment, as soon as possible, of a mandatory system of data collection from individual vessels understanding that the possibility of further market based measures might be revisited after an IMO analysis of the data submitted by ships, he says.

“We firmly believe that deleting any reference to shipping and the progress needed at IMO level is a missed opportunity. The E.U. has already placed its faith in the IMO process by adopting legislation that will enable and support IMO in establishing a global data collection scheme,” said Verhoeven.

“An irreversible process leading to lower CO2 emissions from ships has started. Efforts at IMO and E.U. level can only be bolstered by a clear signal from the highest U.N. instance on climate change. We sincerely hope that negotiating parties will seriously reconsider and heed our call for shipping to be reintroduced in the final climate agreement,” said Verhoeven.

ICS Not Worried

Meanwhile, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) says the absence of text is unlikely to inhibit the aspirations of governments – which are shared by the industry – for IMO to take further action.

Still, it would be helpful for the new agreement to reiterate the vital role of the IMO in the development of further measures to reduce shipping’s CO2 emissions, said ICS in a statement. This would give extra encouragement to build on the global regulations IMO has already successfully adopted and which should reduce CO2 per ton-km 50 percent by 2050. 
“While text on shipping could be useful, the negotiators are now having to focus on the really high level things like climate finance to ensure the overall agreement is a success, which is what everyone wants” said ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe. 

Virtually all UNFCCC Parties and IMO Member States have made clear that they expect the industry to deliver more, and that work on CO2 reduction must continue at IMO, as set out in the original Kyoto Protocol.

In 2016, work will continue at IMO to finalize the adoption of global CO2 reporting systems for ships as the first step in a process that is expected to lead to additional actions that could include a Market Based Measure (MBM). 

In addition, IMO has already agreed to have a discussion about CO2 targets for international shipping, as requested by the Marshall Islands and supported by the European Union. IMO, with its specialist expertise, is the best forum to have this important debate and ICS will participate constructively, says Hinchliffe.

“The message from Paris is clear” said Hinchliffe. “Governments and society expect international shipping to play a full part in the reduction of CO2 and we accept our responsibility to do this. We already have ambitious CO2 reduction goals consistent with what is currently possible. As soon our member national shipowners’ associations have digested the full implications of the final UNFCCC agreement, ICS will be proactive with ideas for debate at IMO next year.”