So did, or did not, the IMO make any progress with the latest CO2 talks?

A SECOND meeting of the IMO’s Intercessional Working Group targeted with shaping an initial greenhouse gas strategy for the Organisation has made progress, according to the IMO, with the International Chamber of Shipping and other shipowner associations are saying it is “broadly satisfied” with progress, while the lobby groups such as Seas at Risk and Transport and Environment saying the meeting failed to meet their expectations and call for more urgency.

In short, this may not be much of a change from the normal response to a GHG intergovernmental debate at the IMO or any other UN body. The green groups want more, the industry retains a cautious “yes, ok, but” stance as it moves cautiously through the lobbying and diplomatic positions, while the UN agency says, no matter, it was good to talk.

In a statement the IMO said; “While the structure of the strategy has been largely agreed, the detailed text to be included is still under discussion.  A wide range of detailed proposals were put forward for inclusion in the draft initial strategy. These included those relating to the vision, levels of ambition, guiding principles, candidate measures, barriers and supportive measures and follow up actions. The group agreed that the draft strategy should incorporate a process for its periodic review.”

The group agreed that candidate short-term measures could be measures finalized and agreed by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) between 2018 and 2023; candidate mid-term measures could be measures finalized and agreed by the MEPC between 2023 and 2030; and candidate long-term measures could be measures finalized and agreed by the MEPC beyond 2030.

Dates of entry into force and when the measure can effectively start to reduce GHG emissions would be defined for each measure individually.

The International Chamber of Shipping, Bimco, Intercargo, and Intertanko issued a common statement last week saying they were “encouraged that the ambitious proposals from the shipping industry regarding CO2 reduction objectives for the sector as a whole remain on the table, along with similar proposals from several IMO Member States”.

There was also development on a list of potential CO2 reduction measures, recognising that any effort to achieve zero CO2 emisisons from the industry (at any date) would require sincere support in the development of alternative fuels and technologies that can be made globally available.

The European based lobby groups Seas at Risk and Transport and Environment said that calls for urgent action to reduce ship greenhouse gas emissions were “met with heavy push-back by many states and big industry groups meeting at the International Maritime Organisation.”

The two groups, which are members of the Clean Shipping Coalition said the most obvious immediate measure is to regulate ship speed, with the feasibility and effectiveness of slow steaming having been proven during the recession.

The coalition funded research to help support its claim that a mandatory reduction in ship speeds from the main vessel types can, on its own, result in a 33% reduction n green house gases.

Bill Hemmings, shipping director at Transport & Environment, said: “Operational speed reduction is the only measure on the table that can deliver the substantial and immediate short-term emissions reductions that the Paris agreement demands.

It’s very feasibility may well be the overriding motivation for the heavy pushback. It can be implemented globally, regionally or between ports. If, after 20 years of work, the IMO’s three-step approach to the climate crisis  – report, analyse, decide – really only amounts to talk, talk, talk, then we should draw the obvious conclusion.”

These are the objectives listed by ICS that may be adopted under the IMO strategy:

Objective 1 – to maintain international shipping’s annual total CO2 emissions below 2008 levels;

Objective 2 – to reduce CO2 emissions per tonne-km, as an average across international shipping, by at least 50% by 2050, compared to 2008; and

Objective 3 – reduce international shipping’s total annual CO2 emissions by an agreed percentage by 2050, compared to 2008, as a point on a continuing trajectory of CO2 emissions reduction.”

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