T&E: US Pull-Out from Paris Accord Could Hinder Progress in Shipping

Reacting to US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord, the EU and China have agreed to cooperate to ensure shipping plays its part in tackling climate change. However, there is a worrying sentiment within the shipping industry that the US withdrawal will slow down progress in shipping, according to T&E.

Ever since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol gave the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) responsibility for tackling emissions from shipping, there has been very little progress to address the climate impact of sea transport, Transport & Environment (T&E) said.

However, ahead of an EU-China summit in Brussels earlier this month, both parties agreed to cooperate with the IMO to combat climate change.

The IMO’s latest greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan envisages a seven-year period to collect data on the industry’s climate impact after which it might agree on action. But Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have proposed to include shipping in the EU emissions trading system – under a Maritime Climate Fund – from 2023 if the IMO fails to agree by then a global measure to reduce shipping emissions.

“It’s good news that China is continuing the commitment to fighting climate change that it showed when Barack Obama was US president, but despite its willingness to cooperate with Europe, the US withdrawal does make the agreement of a carbon limit for shipping more challenging,” Bill Hemmings, T&E’s Shipping Director, commented.

“The EU proposal for a Maritime Climate Fund is a good insurance policy in case the IMO can’t reach agreement on a deal, and now makes even more sense given President Trump’s decision,” Hemmings added.

Earlier this month, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said at the United Nations Conference in New York that the industry would be happy with a commitment to keep total CO2 emissions from shipping below 2008 levels for the next 33 years and then look to cut emissions from 2050 by a percentage to be agreed by the IMO.

ICS also stressed that President Trump’s decision will have no impact on the shipping industry’s commitment to reduce its CO2 emissions.