IMO greenhouse gas agreement is the 'absolute bare minimum'

13 April 2018

Nautilus has described a long-awaited International Maritime Organisation agreement on cutting carbon emissions from shipping as a missed opportunity to set an example to the world.

Greenhouse gas emissions from shipping presently accounts for 2.2% of the world's total emissions – roughly equivalent to a country like Germany.

The strategy agreed at the IMO outlines a target to reduce this by at least 50% by 2050 while pursuing efforts towards phasing them out. The Marshall Islands, other Pacific island states and the European Union had been seeking a reduction of 70% to 100% over the same period.

The IMO has set a target of a 40% improvement in ship efficiency by 2030, compared to 2008, and a 50-70% improvement by 2050 – described by the International Chamber of Shipping as 'extremely ambitious but probably achievable'.

Nautilus professional and technical officer David Appleton attended the talks and commented: 'Whilst we can agree with the majority of speakers at the marine environment protection committee who stated that this strategy is a step in the right direction, and certainly better than no agreement at all, the level of ambition expressed within the compromise agreement is extremely disappointing.

'The IMO had an opportunity to make a real statement this week that would have set an example to the world,' he added. 'That opportunity has been missed and instead we have an agreement that represents the absolute bare minimum that could have been accepted politically.

It remains to be seen if this agreement will be enough to satisfy those believe that regional regulation is necessary.'

UK Chamber of Shipping CEO Guy Platten commented: 'This agreement commits the shipping industry to reducing its carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2050. But crucially this should be seen as a stepping stone towards decarbonisation in the long term – something which must continue to be a major focus in the years ahead.'

UK shipping minister Nusrat Ghani described the agreement as 'a watershed moment' for shipping.

'Today's deal opens up new and exciting opportunities to develop environmentally-friendly technologies and, through our Maritime 2050 Strategy, we will ensure that the UK continues to be at the forefront of the green maritime revolution,' she added.