Maritime Environmental Protection Committee fails to set…

The needle on decarbonizing the global shipping industry barely moved as the 79th Maritime Environment Protection Committee (MEPC79) concluded on Friday 16th December. The meeting failed to set a concrete goal, only adopting a resolution to encourage decarbonisation in the port and maritime sectors.

MEPC79 was held in London from December 12-16, hosted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency set up to prevent marine and air pollution from ships in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The conference fell short of the expectations of ambitious states that hoped the IMO would commit to zero emissions by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement to cap global average temperatures at 1.5℃.

Learn more in Daily Maverick:The truth about the 79th Marine Environment Protection Committee and why you should care

In the final outcomes of the meeting, the committee agreed that a revised greenhouse gas strategy, adopted in 2018, would be concluded at MEPC80 in 2023, when a target for industry emissions should be set. .

As 2050 approaches, it is important that the industry – the seventh biggest polluter in the world – agrees on a goal to begin the transition of the shipping sector and the role it can play in reducing of its broadcasts.

The emissions targets currently set out in the revised strategy are to reduce carbon intensity (emissions associated with transport fuel) by at least 40% by 2030, with the hope of reaching 70% by 2050 .

The industry also hopes to reduce all emissions by at least 50% by 2050, compared to 2008. The committee also concluded to formally amend a sulfur limit in the Baltic and North Seas. .


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Ambition levels

The industry recognizes the need to decarbonise, IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim told a news conference. “The bottom line is whether we recognize the importance of climate change issues and decarbonization, whether we accept that as a component.”

International Maritime Organization Secretary General Kitack Lim during the opening of the 79th session of the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee, December 12, 2022. (Photo: Flickr/IMO)

Lim said the “hot topic” had been raised regarding decarbonization and how the negative impacts of decarbonization could be offset by IMO.

Developing countries were reluctant to set ambitious decarbonization targets in the final MEPC79 text because the IMO had not yet reached consensus on how the decarbonization agenda would be funded.

South American countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Peru have actively expressed support for lowered decarbonization targets, with China also calling for the final text to remove the level of ambition.

Daniele Rao, from Carbon Market Watch, said that despite a few countries’ lack of ambition, there were moves in the right direction towards climate action.

“The IMO has been talking about the same ‘basket of measures’ for over a year, but now is the time to start shortlisting the best, most ambitious and fairest proposals. The $100 carbon tax proposed by the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands is the best option on the table to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships and to support the most vulnerable,” Rao said.

Learn more in Daily Maverick:Pacific Islands’ proposed carbon tax on shipping could be a lifeline for developing countries

harry conway expedition
President Harry Conway at the opening of the 79th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organization, December 12, 2022. (Photo: Flickr / IMO)

IMO President Dr. Harry Conway has found a compromise between ambitious countries like the Pacific Islands and countries with lesser ambitions like China and some South American countries.

Conway said the final text would include that the IMO would “adopt or revise its greenhouse gas strategy in all its elements, including with a level of ambition reinforced by the MEPC80”.

Lim said climate ambitions would be met through market-based measures on the use of alternative fuels, adding that there were concerns that the price of alternative fuels would be higher than existing fossil fuels.

Market-based measures to limit emissions from industry should include technical and economic measures, such as the introduction of a carbon tax.

In its request for a $100/tonne carbon tax, the Marshall Islands cites decarbonization as well as the effects that increased greenhouse gas emissions have had on their islands, including raising the level of the sea.

its not green enough

Earlier in the week, South Africa raised concerns at the meeting about the development of “green shipping corridors”, ports on shipping routes that would be powered by greener fuels and could be used as refueling stations.

South Africa said that because the country’s coal-dependent grid supplies ports, it should be reconfigured to meet demand for greener fuel. Although South Africa is not a large flag state in terms of registered vessels (the country has 12 registered vessels, compared to Panama which has nearly 10,000), it lies along a busy trade, with 96% of its imports and exports. depend on maritime trade.

Whether or not countries are major flag states, the science is clear: urgent action is needed from all sectors to ensure that 1.5℃ remains the increase in global average temperature that the planet is not projected to exceed. Although the shipping industry was not mentioned in the text of the Paris Agreement that established the 1.5℃ limit, the industry is expected to set sail towards decarbonization.

Delaine McCullough of the Ocean Conservancy said of the IMO: “While no decisions were made this week on addressing shipping damage to our planet, we have certainly seen significant progress. in that direction… We must… focus now on a strong reduction in emissions within the next two years, as climate science compels us to do. DM/OBP

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