CSC: Stronger 2030/2040 targets needed to boost climate action on shipping

Governments must use the upcoming meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on Greenhouse Gases (ISWG-GHG-14) to support stronger science-based climate targets for 2030 and 2040 that are vital for shipping’s energy transition, according to Clean Shipping Coalition (CSC).

Illustration; Credit: Port of Rotterdam

Last year’s negotiations showed a major breakthrough on stepping up climate ambition for shipping. A clear majority of member states supported the adoption of a 2050 absolute zero-emission reduction target under the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) revised climate strategy, bringing the sector closer than ever before to the Paris Agreement goals.

However, the IMO failed to adopt a more ambitious and concrete decarbonisation target for shipping at the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 79) in December last year.

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Now, the IMO has a historic opportunity in the next three months to put the global shipping industry on an equitable, 1.5°C-aligned decarbonisation pathway.

“IMO member states must listen to the climate-science, and urgently commit to halve climate pollution from ships by 2030 and to reach zero-emission by 2040. Given the disproportionate impacts of climate change felt in vulnerable and developing states already today, the IMO must also ensure this transition is just and equitable,” CSC stressed.

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The negotiations are set to continue on 20-24 March (ISWG-GHG-14) and on 26-30 June at (ISWG-GHG-15), before concluding on 3-7 July (MEPC 80).

CSC further motes that exceeding the 1.5°C global-heating limit, even if temporarily, risks crossing triggering cascading and irreversible effects of climate change (‘tipping points’), such as ice sheet melt (especially in the Arctic), sea level rise, marine ecosystem loss, extreme weather events and socio-economic disruptions.

Furthermore, shipping and ports are particularly vulnerable to these adverse effects, and every year of inaction this decade will add an estimated $100 billion annually to the cost of shipping decarbonisation.

This comes on top of the costs of the impacts of climate change on the industry, which is estimated to reach up to $7.1 billion annually by 2050 if countries fail to act.

Strong 2030 and 2040 targets will determine the IMO’s ambition across climate measures for the coming years, such as action on short-term pollutants (methane and black carbon), mandatory slow-steaming, a carbon levy of at least $ 100/tonne of greenhouse gas and a fuel standard.

To trigger shipping’s great transition we need to be true to the science and set ambitious 1.5°C-compatible targets for 2030 and 2040. These will set the scene for urgent short-term emission cuts, unlock green investment, and stop the industry from wasting billions on false solutions like fossil LNG. If the IMO only agrees to zero by 2050 it will have failed, signalling years more of business as usual and making the decarbonisation of the sector harder, riskier and vastly more expensive than it needs to be,” John Maggs, Clean Shipping Coalition said.

The CSC and several countries (the US, Canada, the UK, the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Kiribati, and Fiji) put forward concrete absolute emission reduction targets for 2030 and 2040 to IWSG-GHG-14.

Several influential IMO observers (the World Bank, Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Centre, the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), have also previously called for deep emission cuts from ships before 2030.