UN agrees deal to cut shipping emissions, NGOs say it’s not enough

17 Jun 2021

London, (Quantum Commodity Intelligence) - The UN’s shipping agency agreed new measures to cut carbon emissions from the shipping sector on Thursday, but environmental groups have said the plan does not go far enough.

At a virtual meeting this week, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted operational and technical proposals to improve the energy efficiency of ships that it said would lead to a 40% cut in the carbon intensity of shipping by 2030 compared with 2008 levels.

Specifically, the measures require all ships to calculate their energy efficiency according to a benchmark and will receive an energy efficiency rating with “A” being the best  and “E” the worst.

Ports and governments are encouraged to provide incentives to better-rated ships, while those rated D or worse for three consecutive years will need to submit a plan to show how the minimum level of C will be reached.

The proposals kick in in November 2022, with certification happening in 2023 and the first ratings issued in 2024.

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said the adoption of the new measures would build on IMO’s previously adopted mandatory energy efficiency measures, to lead shipping on the right path towards decarbonisation.

“The path to decarbonization is a long, but also a common path in which we need to consider and respect each other’s views. We have made a considerable amount of progress since the start of our journey,” Lim said.

Head off EU criticism

The meeting was a crucial one as the IMO tries to head off criticism from the EU that it is not doing enough to cut emissions from a sector that accounts for 2% of global emissions and growing.

The EU will propose amendments to its carbon market this summer, and including shipping in the scheme is under consideration.

Environmental groups expressed anger with the result and urged nations to take their own action.

“(The) IMO just adopted another greenwashing cosmetic measure for shipping. This is egregious, how a United Nations organisation could disregard the urgency of the climate problem so much yet meddle in EU efforts to full up the gap,” said Faig Abbasov, a campaigner with green group Transport & Environment.

Campaigners say that emissions from shipping have to fall by 7% per year from 2019-2030 to meet a UN goal to cap a rise in global temperatures 1.5C above industrial levels by 2050.

The current trajectory is a 1.5% increase in emissions per year.