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IPCC: GHG Emissions Must Peak by 2025 to Meet Climate Targets

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Published Apr 4, 2022 11:33 PM by The Maritime Executive

The international community is underperforming on its climate commitments, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - and the panel believes that shipping's level of commitment is even lower than average.  

According to IPCC, the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C - the threshold for the worst effects of climate change - is now "beyond reach" without "immediate and deep" emissions reductions across all sectors, including shipping. Specifically, "immediate" would mean reaching peak GHG emissions worldwide by 2025, then cutting emissions in half by 2030.  “It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C,” said IPCC working group co-chair Jim Skea. “Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”

In announcing the latest benchmark review, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres did not mince words. "The latest IPCC report is a litany of broken climate promises," Guterres said. "Some government and business leaders are saying one thing, but doing another. They are lying. It is time to stop burning our planet."

Shipping (and more specifically, the International Maritime Organization) gets its own share of the criticism in the 2,900-page report. According to the IPCC's review, all of the scenarios envisioned in the IMO's fourth greenhouse gas study will result in emissions equal to or greater than 2020 levels by mid-century, even though these scenarios incorporate efficiency improvements and greater use of LNG. 

The shipping sector's sights will have to be raised, IPCC suggested. The IMO currently has an ambition to cut GHG emissions by 50 percent by 2050 - not 100 percent, as other sectors hope to achieve. "Current sectoral levels of ambition vary, with emission reduction aspirations in international aviation and shipping lower than in many other sectors," IPCC noted. "While the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) have established emissions reductions targets, only strategies to improve fuel efficiency and demand reductions have been pursued, and there has been minimal commitment to new technologies."

These new technologies could include hydrogen, ammonia, electrofuels, battery power and wind-assisted propulsion, IPCC noted. Efficiency measures like slow steaming, weather routing and propulsion efficiency devices could also play a role.