IMO working group moves to assess impact of carbon pricing on shipping

Decision to assess impact of carbon pricing across international shipping welcomed by shipping groups

A meeting at the IMO has moved a step closer to creating a market-based measure, a financial mechanism to force shipping companies to make their vessels emit less greenhouse gases while providing potential funds for technology research and mitigation measures. It has called for impact assessments to be done to show any possible effect of a carbon price on the shipping industry, one of the prerequisites for a measure.


The meeting outcome has been welcomed by shipowner groups.


The weeklong digital meeting of the intercessional working group on GHG emissions met from 18th to 22nd October to work on key areas that it was tasked with by the IMO’s marine environment protection committee.

The intercessional met two weeks before one of the most important meetings in the UN calendar, the 26th COP of the UNFCCC, between 31st October and 12th November 2021 where shipping and green lobby groups hope to put pressure on governments to take more action on decarbonisation of the maritime sector.


Following the COP meeting the IMO’s MEPC will meet from 22nd to 26th November where the outcomes of the recent intercessional working group will be part of the discussions.


The working group had been under pressure to work on the mid- and long-term measures for the decarbonisation of shipping, largely with the expectation of looking at market-based measures.


The International Chamber of Shipping, participating in the intercessional, issued a press statement directly after the close of the meeting welcoming the progress, calling it “an important first step by governments to understand how carbon pricing might apply to shipping”.

  Simon Bennett, deputy secretary general of ICS, who was present at the meeting is quoted in the press release saying “This IMO meeting was an important first step by governments to better understand how carbon pricing might apply to shipping within a global regulatory framework. There was general recognition that a piecemeal approach of regional or national measures won’t work.”


ICS has been fighting against regional measures such as the drive by the European Union to include shipping in its regional emissions trading scheme as well as a number of other regional policies.


“ICS is pleased that governments have now started their detailed consideration of current proposals, including the comprehensive proposal for a global carbon levy that ICS (and INTERCARGO) put forward to the IMO last month. This has much in common with a similar proposal from Pacific Island States,” added Bennett.


“Based on the good start made this week, ICS is optimistic that an MBM can be taken forward by the IMO, while addressing the legitimate concerns among developing countries about the potential economic impacts”. 

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