ICS calls for IMO revised GHG strategy to target net zero emissions by 2050

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Ahead of the start of the COP26 climate talks later this month, the International Chamber of Shipping has submitted a formal proposal to IMO that governments should target net zero carbon emissions from shipping by 2050. At the same time, it has outlined the measures it deems necessary to achieve that goal, namely a $5bn International Maritime Research Fund and mandatory carbon levy on fuel

A net-zero goal would effectively double shipping’s current target of a reduction by ‘at least 50%’ (compared to 2008 levels) before 2050 – as enshrined in the International Maritime Organization’s Initial Strategy on GHG emissions. First agreed in 2018, that Initial Strategy Is due to be revised by 2023 at latest.

In calling for the more ambitious target, ICS notes that many governments are now concerned that the current IMO strategy “may be insufficient to ensure that the sector makes an adequate contribution to global CO2 reduction efforts consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals.”

For any net zero goal by mid-century to be “plausible,” adds the ICS, the IMO needs to adopt “the necessary measures to accelerate R&D of zero-carbon technologies and expedite their deployment”, including “immediate approval” of the $5bn International Maritime Research Fund (IMRF) that the shipping industry has previously proposed to the IMO, it urges.

The IMRF could be financed by the Market Based Measure (MBM) of a mandatory carbon levy of $2 per ton on marine fuel, thereby raising $5bn over a 10-year period, states the proposal.

The ICS contends that “both the IMRF and an appropriate MBM need to be adopted by the IMO” to assist the shipping industry manage the transition to net zero, “otherwise the revised Strategy will lack credibility”. Also that “development of relevant technologies, fuels, propulsion systems and related infrastructure required to achieve such an increased level of ambition are the responsibility and in the control of stakeholders other than shipowners.”

The ICS proposal is due to be discussed at the upcoming 77th meeting of the IMO’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC 77) taking place 8-12 November, which will be preceded by a preparatory Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships on 18-22 October.