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IMO agrees strategy for cutting carbon dioxide emissions in shipping

IMO agrees strategy for cutting carbon dioxide emissions in shipping

"In the longer term, the shipping industry's ability to remain on the agreed GHG reduction pathway inevitably hinges upon the indispensable availability globally of alternative low or no carbon, safe fuels for the efficient operation of the world fleet".

More specifically, under the identified "levels of ambition", the initial strategy envisages for the first time a reduction in total GHG emissions from global shipping which, it says, should peak as soon as possible and to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while, at the same time, pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely.

The initial strategy represents a framework for Member States, setting out the future vision for worldwide shipping, the levels of ambition to reduce GHG emissions and guiding principles; and includes candidate short-, mid- and long-term further measures with possible timelines and their impacts on States.

"Meeting this target means that in the 2030s most newly built ocean-going vessels will run on zero carbon renewable fuels". There were objections from Argentina and Brazil, nations whose dependence on long-distance shipping for trade purposes arguably exposes them to a heavier penalty than most, with respect to emissions targets.

How has the European Union responded to the agreement?

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In Brussels, the European Commission hailed the deal as "a significant step forward" in the global effort to tackle climate change. "It will require rapid technological changes to produce zero-emission ships, moving from fossil fuels, to a combination of electricity (batteries), renewable fuels derived from hydrogen, and potentially bioenergy", said Tristan Smith, an expert on energy and shipping at the University College London's Energy Institute.

The landmark decision brings shipping in line with the aspirations of the Paris Agreement, it added.

This is the first time the industry has committed to such a target.

"What happens next is crucial", said John Maggs, president of the Clean Shipping Coalition and senior policy advisor at Seas At Risk, an umbrella organisation of environmental NGOs.

According to the text produced by the IMO working group submitted to member states, the initial strategy would not be legally binding for member states. But the IMO Secretary General stressed that the agreement was only an initial strategy, a "starting point", with the final roadmap to be finalised by 2023.


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