Marshall Islands: Sekimizu’s View on CO2 Emissions Danger to the Planet

The Republic of the Marshall Islands has expressed great concern over the outgoing Secretary-General of the IMO, Koji Sekimizu’s call to global leaders at COP21 not to intervene and not to insist that the IMO sets a clear and ambitious sector target for shipping.

“His call is not just a danger to the planet, but as the research points out, also to the shipping industry’s future prosperity, and therefore the future stability of world trade,” RMI’s Foreign Affairs Minister Tony de Brum said in a statement.

According to the Minister, the Secretary-General’s misuse, or at least misunderstanding, of the evidence-base on shipping and its GHG pollution is of great alarm.

Namely, the Secretary-General cited the Third IMO GHG Study that records that during 2007-2012 shipping reduced its share of GHG pollution.

The Marshal Islands claims that there is no evidence supporting a connection between IMO policy and reductions in GHG emissions as the IMO’s GHG regulations in MARPOL came in to force in 2013. The evidence noted in the study was that the reduction in emissions was due to widespread slow-steaming, a short-term response resulting from the global financial crisis and one that is likely to reverse as the market recovers, the Minister continued.

However, the Minister insists that now it is key to curb shipping’s impact in the future as it is predicted that emissions from shipping are set to increase 50-250% by 2050, increasing its share to 6-15% of GHG emissions.

“GHG pollution is a difficult issue for the global economy. It requires a long-term vision, attention to fairness and equity and an inclusive debate across all sectors and countries. It is not reasonable to expect the IMO to have a view which is inclusive of all sectors’ GHG challenges. But it is reasonable to expect this of the UNFCCC,” the Minister said.

“The proposed Paris Agreement must deliver the strongest possible directive to the IMO to move quickly and decisively to set such a target and to prioritise implementing all measures necessary to achieve this target. This call is supported by the Suva Declaration on Climate Change, signed this month by many governments of the Pacific Small Island Developing States and territories,” he adds.

In May this year the Republic of the Marshall Islands led a delegation of Pacific Ministers and Ambassadors to the IMO requesting a firm and ambitious sector target for shipping to reduce its emissions commensurate with maintaining a no more than 1.5 degree global warming threshold.  RMI respectfully requested that this step be made in advance of COP21 so that the IMO could send a clear message to Paris that the shipping sector was prepared to shoulder its fair share of the climate change challenge.

The IMO decided not to grant the RMI request, citing the need to complete its work on agreeing a data collection, monitoring and evaluation process for shipping and to consider the outcomes from COP21 in Paris.