COP26 commitments mean IMO must halve shipping emissions by 2030, say climate advocacy groups

Advocacy groups including Clean Shipping Coalition, Clean Arctic Alliance, Global Choices, Seas at Risk, Opportunity Green, Pacific Environment, Greenpeace, WWF- Canada, Environmental Defense Fund and ECODES, call on IMO to make sure climate commitments at COP26 translate into concrete action.

The groups issued the following statement.

Recent IPCC reports and the 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° temperature goal with concrete action and halve shipping emissions by 2030 at the IMO.

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°. 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°, 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% of shipping climate impact; and
  • Set a GHG levy: agree a minimum $100/ton 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° and save billions of people around the world from climate chaos.

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

  • 54 climate-vulnerable countries signed the Dhaka-Glasgow declaration, demanding a carbon levy on ship fuel;
  • 22 countries agreed to set up decarbonized shipping corridors through the Clydebank Declaration;
  • 14 countries endorsed the Declaration on Zero Emission Shipping by 2050. 

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° temperature goal, thereby having to halve shipping emissions by 2030, and support a carbon levy inside the IMO as well as outside it. 

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