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Governments must not backtrack on IMO Initial GHG Strategy, say NGOs

Press Release: The initial IMO GHG Strategy, the historic 2018 climate deal agreed to by over 100 countries, risks  being undermined at negotiations next week during the 7th meeting of the IMO’s Intersessional  Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (October 19-23). 

The three most important principles of the initial IMO GHG Strategy are: 

1) The agreement that the Paris Agreement applies to shipping. Specifically, the initial IMO  GHG Strategy refers to putting shipping on “a pathway of CO2 emissions reduction  consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals”. 

2) The initial IMO GHG Strategy refers to prioritising Short Term measures that can achieve  “further reduction of GHG emissions from international shipping before 2023”. 

3) The initial IMO GHG Strategy aims “to peak GHG emissions from international shipping as  soon as possible”. 

These three crucial commitments are under threat from a small minority of countries at IMO. A  compromised proposal is on the table next week that would allow shipping’s 1 billion tonnes of  annual GHG emissions to keep rising for at least another decade, violating the Paris Agreement, as  well as the initial IMO GHG Strategy. 

If this attempt to backtrack on the initial Strategy commitments succeeds, it would weaken the  IMO’s status as a global regulator. 

As supporters of the IMO, we urge all countries to respect, and actively reaffirm, these three parts of  the initial IMO GHG Strategy they committed to in 2018, and not undermine the IMO and efforts to  tackle shipping’s very substantial climate footprint by backtracking. 

Strong, clearly enforced, transparent regulation of shipping’s Carbon Intensity can reduce costly fossil fuel consumption, and cut the costs of burgeoning and devastating climate impacts imposed  on all countries, but especially developing and least developed countries. 

Signed: 

Carbon Market Watch wijnand.stoefs@carbonmarketwatch.org 

Generation Climate Europe – kate.ae.young@gmail.com 

Green Transition Denmark – Kåre Press-Kristensen karp@env.dtu.dk 

NABU – soenke.diesener@nabu.de 

Seas at Risk jmaggs@seas-at-risk.org 

Transport & Environment – faig.abbasov@transportenvironment.org

NOTES: Under a compromise proposal (ISWG-GHG 7/2/26) between advocates of Operational  Efficiency (regulated via Carbon Intensity Indicators) and “Technical” regulation such as the Energy  Efficiency Existing Ships Index (EEXI), both policies have been combined. However, it appears the  cost imposed by the least ambitious countries as part of this deal is to push back any actual  enforcement of Carbon Intensity until 2029/2030 at the earliest. 

Specifically, on page 5, section 26 of the proposal it explains that only in 2029 will ships rated “E” not  be issued a Statement of Compliance. Ships rated “D” can have until 2030, it is proposed, before  they risk losing their Statement of Compliance. (Meanwhile the majority of ships in the world  already stamped A, B or C will have no regulatory requirement even in a decade’s time to improve  their efficiency, e.g. using available technologies like Fletter rotors and bubble hull lubrication – currently installed on less than 0.1% of the world’s fleet.) This is one of three enforcement options  in the proposal and is the most ambitious, with the other two options containing no binding  penalties at all. 

Leaving the operational efficiency of ships voluntary until 2029/2030, as ISWG-GHG 7/2/26 suggests,  will allow shipping’s vast 1 billion tonnes of annual GHG emissions to keep rising for the next 10  years at least. 

This clearly violates points 2) and 3) above – only enforcing a measure from 2029 will not reduce  emissions before 2023, nor will it reduce GHG emissions “as soon as possible”. On point 1), Paris  Agreement compliance, climate scientists made clear in last year’s IPCC 1.5 degrees special report, that global emissions have to be cut in absolute terms by approximately -45% by 2030, to stabilise  global heating at 1.5C degrees – a temperature goal which all Paris Agreement signatories have  committed to pursue. 

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