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ICS Rallies IMO for CO2 Reduction Commitment Ahead of MEPC 70

Not one to shy away from making the beliefs of their membership heard, particularly in the weeks leading up to a periodical gathering of the industry’s regulators in London, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has made its views clear – it wants the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to act swiftly on setting a CO2 reduction commitment for the industry.

The hypothetical fire in their belly coming from their belief that it should be the industry’s global regulator that develops the details of a CO2 reduction commitment on behalf of the sector.

The call for action from the ICS comes in the wake of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change being established at COP21 last December. Last week the Paris Agreement recently cleared the last hurdle to taking effect with the European Parliament approval tipping the required level of nations representing at least 55 percent of global emissions over the threshold. This delivers ICS’ statements with greater urgency as the time for industry action is nearing, the Paris Agreement will come into effect on November 4.

Although the Paris Agreement makes no explicit reference to international transport, rather it was famously emitted during the COP21 negotiations, the UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol makes clear that both the shipping and aviation sectors have a responsibility to reduce their GHG emissions.

Adding further fuel to the fire is the fact that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) reached agreement this week on a CO2 reduction plan for the aviation sector Therefore, all eyes may very well turn to shipping to make a move on rubber stamping a plan for its CO2 reduction commitment. Cargo ships and international aviation are both responsible for 2.2% of the world’s total GHG emissions each, and it is for this reason that the two industries are put under of spotlight of similar luminosity when it comes to environmental impact. Albeit for shipping’s GHG share it does move 90% of the world’s goods in the very efficient manner.

For the shipping industry, a CO2 reduction commitment would first take the form of a global CO2 data collection system for ships, which IMO Member States will officially establish this October. This system should then become fully operational by 2018.

This is without a doubt great progress and it builds upon work already being done to act upon shipping emissions that pre-dates the formation of the Paris Agreement. However, the caveat that ICS is currently verbalising is that in the same way that governments under the Paris Agreement have set out Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for reducing the total GHG emissions by their national economies, IMO needs to do something similar on behalf of the international shipping industry, even though it is a sector and not a country.

The ICS’ Chairman, Esben Poulsson, explained: “We wish to see IMO Member States adopt a course similar to that agreed by governments in Paris and which reflects the spirit of the Agreement. This will help IMO Member States to demonstrate they are serious about building on the real progress already made by the shipping industry to reduce CO2. Our hope is that this can be done in a way that will also be acceptable to developing nations whose support will be vital if IMO is to continue making progress on a global basis.”

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