COP26 commitments mean IMO must halve shipping emissions by 2030

COP26 commitments mean IMO must halve shipping emissions by 2030

Recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and developments at the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow are a wake-up call that the UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) cannot ignore.

Countries must now build on their commitments to save the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature goal with concrete action and halve shipping emissions by 2030 at the IMO.

These are the thoughts of several organisations who released a joint statement this week to encourage countries to commit to ambitious carbon reduction goals. The joint statement was released by the Clean Shipping Coalition, Clean Arctic Alliance, Global Choices, Seas at Risk, Opportunity Green, Pacific Environment, Greenpeace, WWF- Canada, Environmental Defense Fund, ECODES. The statement goes on to say:

There is currently no strategy in place at the IMO to achieve any significant ship emission reductions before 2030, let alone the reductions necessary to keep the sector on a pathway consistent with warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Under the current IMO regulations ship emissions continue to rise out to 2030 and the shipping industry will exhaust its 1.5 degree carbon budget by 2029.

At next week’s 77th session of IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC77), IMO member states must urgently align the agency’s work on reducing climate impacts from shipping with the COP26 developments.

In particular, countries have the opportunity to:

  • Align shipping with the 1.5 degrees target: commit to reducing ship climate impacts on a timeframe consistent with keeping warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, including reaching zero by 2050 at the latest and halving emissions by 2030;
  • Bolster short-term measures: reopen discussions on the level of ambition in the IMO’s short-term measure with a view to agreeing new targets consistent with halving emissions by 2030;
  • Tackle black carbon: take decisive action to address the impact on the Arctic of black carbon emissions, a short-lived climate forcer responsible for 20 per cent of shipping climate impact;
  • Set a GHG levy: agree a minimum USD 100/tonne levy on GHG emissions to raise climate finance and support a just transition to zero across the sector as called for at COP26.

These actions constitute a significant increase in the ambition of IMO’s climate work but they are necessary if we want the shipping industry to contribute to keeping global heating below 1.5 degrees Celsius and save billions of people around the world from climate chaos.

The COP26 summit has already laid an important foundation for this shift, as:

We applaud the signatories for their climate leadership and urge them to make their presence felt at MEPC77. We insist that they stick to their positions on aligning with the 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature goal, thereby having to halve shipping emissions by 2030, and support a carbon levy inside the IMO as well as outside it.

We will continue monitoring closely the discussion at the IMO to make sure climate commitments at COP26 translate into concrete action.