IMO agrees strategy for cutting carbon dioxide emissions in shipping

IMO agrees strategy for cutting carbon dioxide emissions in shipping
European Commissioner Violeta Bulc © Aron Urb (EU2017EE)

The International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee has agreed an initial strategy for cutting carbon dioxide emissions in shipping.

Proposals for cutting carbon dioxide emissions in shipping have been under discussion for a number of years. Following the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, countries around the world took efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, but the maritime sector was not bound by the agreement’s targets.

Since then, the IMO has aimed to bring together its member states to agree on a binding target for the maritime sector, but had not been able to reach a consensus on an appropriate level of action. However, following a meeting on Friday at which a number of countries emphasised the urgency with which an agreement was needed, the IMO states voted in favour of a new strategy.

What does the strategy involve?

The IMO strategy includes a target of cutting carbon dioxide emissions in shipping by 50% before 2050, and also suggests that wider steps be taken to facilitate the complete decarbonisation of shipping as a long term goal.

The strategy’s targets are not binding, and the MEPC has characterised the document as a framework that demonstrates the level of ambition across the IMO’s member states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

How has the EU responded to the agreement?

In a joint statement, European Commissioners Violeta Bulc and Miguel Arias Cañete welcomed the agreement as a “significant step forward” in efforts to combat global warming across the globe, although the EU had initially hoped for stronger commitments.

The commissioners said: “While the EU had sought a higher level of ambition, this [strategy] is a good starting point that will allow for further review and improvements over time… For this initial strategy to succeed, it is now crucial that effective reduction measures are swiftly adopted and put in place before 2023.”

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