U.S. to Join IMO Efforts to Cut GHG Emissions as U.K. Targets Shipping

US reverses policy to support IMO on decarbonization
U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry announced support for the IMO GHG policy (U.S. State Department photo)

Published Apr 20, 2021 8:18 PM by The Maritime Executive

In its continuing efforts to reverse the environmental policies of the prior administration, the Biden administration today announced it will join the efforts by the International Maritime Organization to achieve zero carbon emissions. Only the United States and Saudi Arabia had been holdouts voicing concerns over the IMO greenhouse gas initiatives and withholding formal support.

This afternoon, the UN Foundation and Ocean Conservancy co-organized an event led by the Friends of the Ocean and Climate countries to discuss ocean-climate action and highlight efforts advancing ocean-based solutions in the run-up to global environmental summit COP26 in Glasgow this November. 

The Ocean Conservancy has been a vocal critic of U.S. policy calling on the Biden administration to reverse previous policies. The organization said the U.S. needed to join with the other nations in the world committing to zero-emission goals. The Ocean Conservancy was calling on the U.S. to join the efforts to require the shipping industry, as one of the larger contributors of greenhouse gases, to enact and enforce strict standards.

Days ago, the Ocean Conservancy announced that U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, would join with the other global leaders at the virtual event preceding President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate. It is broadly anticipated that the United States will announce sweeping action to fulfill Biden’s campaign promises to take rapid action on climate change with a series of new environmental initiatives.

Ocean Conservancy broke the news in a Tweet this afternoon that “the U.S. is committing to work with the IMO to reach zero emissions from the shipping industry by 2050."



"I want to announce that in support of the global effort to keep us in reach of 1.5 degrees Celsius and in support of global efforts to achieve net-zero by no later than 2050, the United States is committing to work with countries in the IMO to adopt the goal of achieving zero emissions from international shipping by no later than 2050,” Reuters is reporting that Kerry told the Ocean Conservancy conference. 

Kerry said that the U.S. has the technologies and now would join the efforts investing in initiatives to reduce emissions from the shipping industry. Full details on the U.S. plans and new policy initiatives are expected to be released by the White House in coordination with the Biden climate summit on April 22 and 23.

The move by the Biden administration to support the IMO policy came as other countries also moved to put forth bolder initiatives on the environment. Earlier in the day, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson also put forward an ambitious new plan advancing Great Britain’s timetable for reducing carbon emissions. Johnson revised the goal saying the U.K. will achieve a 78 percent reduction by 2035, 15 years earlier than previously announced. As part of his new plan, Johnson also said the U.K. would become the first country in the world to include both shipping and aviation under the new climate policies. 

"We want to continue to raise the bar on tackling climate change, and that's why we're setting the most ambitious target to cut emissions in the world," Johnson said. He has been aggressively pursuing green policies for the U.K. saying it will help to rebuild U.K. industry and establish leadership.

The hope is that other countries will also join in the new wave of global initiatives announcing their own efforts to accelerate commitments to decarbonization and reducing GHG emissions.