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Shipping’s CO2 Reduction Goals Exceed Government Commitments in Advance of UN Climate Conference

Nov 24, 2015
The United Nations (UNFCCC) has published a Synthesis Report analysing the impact of the pledges made by 146 nations to reduce CO2 emissions in advance of next week’s Climate Change Conference in Paris.

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) says the mandatory CO2 reduction measures already adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), combined with the aggressive fuel efficiency measures being taken by merchant ships worldwide, will proportionately deliver far more ambitious CO2 reductions than the pledges so far made by governments.

The UNFCCC says governments’ commitments overall should reduce CO2 emissions per capita by just 5% in 2030 compared to 2010.

Shipping has already reduced its total CO2 emissions by more than 10% (2007- 2012) despite continuing growth in maritime trade, and reduced CO2 per tonne of cargo transported one kilometre (tonne-km being a comparable metric to emissions per capita) by around 20% in the past 10 years.

For the future, IMO rules already adopted require all ships built after 2025 to be at least 30% more fuel efficient. As its contribution to the United Nations 2 degree centigrade climate change goal, shipping is committed to reducing CO2 per tonne-km by at least 50% before 2050.

Responding to recent concerns, expressed by the Sustainable Shipping Initiative, that measures being taken by shipping somehow fall short of what is required to achieve the 2 degree goal, ICS says that this misunderstands the approach already agreed at the UN negotiations regarding the obligations of different sectors of the global economy.

The UNFCCC recognises that developed and developing nations should accept differing CO2 reduction commitments. International shipping is no different, especially in view of its vital role in the movement of about 90% of global trade.

Recent data published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development confirms that maritime trade now benefits developed and developing nations equally. To suggest that the global shipping industry should be treated like a developed country for the purpose of setting CO2 targets is therefore inappropriate.

Shipping has ambitious CO2 reduction goals. However, ICS asserts that higher levels of CO2 reduction than those to which the industry is committed would be incompatible with UN sustainable development goals and the continuing improvement of living standards as the world population increases.

Recognising the industry’s global structure and its critical contribution to their future prosperity, most nations at UNFCCC are not demanding the same CO2 cuts by shipping that have been pledged by advanced economies such as EU Member States.


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