Some coun­tries fear lim­it­ing green­house gases will paral­yse sec­tor


Global ship­ping in­dus­try urged to cut green­house gases.

Talks on the global ship­ping in­dus­try cut­ting green­house gases have opened with a pas­sion­ate plea for ac­tion.

A min­is­ter from the Mar­shall Is­lands warned that the fu­ture of his low-ly­ing Pa­cific coun­try was at stake.

The ship­ping in­dus­try gen­er­ates more than two per cent of global CO2 emis­sions but that is pro­jected to in­crease rapidly.

More than 100 coun­tries are meet­ing at the In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Or­gan­i­sa­tion in Lon­don to try to agree on a new pol­icy.

Bat­tle lines are drawn be­tween coun­tries deter­mined to see deep cuts in ship­ping’s green­house gases and those that fear that rapid lim­its could dam­age de­vel­op­ment.

Ship­ping was ex­empted from the Paris Agree­ment be­cause it in­volves an in­ter­na­tional ac­tiv­ity and the agree­ment was based on a sys­tem of na­tional tar­gets.

But the in­dus­try cur­rently pro­duces a higher level of car­bon emis­sions than Ger­many and, if it was ranked as a coun­try, it would be the sixth largest emit­ter on the planet.

Speak­ing to the gath­er­ing of more than 1,000 diplo­mats and ship­ping in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tives, David Paul, en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter of the Mar­shall Is­lands, said that ship­ping was a ma­jor source of in­come for his coun­try which

No mea­sure should dis­crim­i­nate against ex­port­ing coun­tries or favour other ex­port­ing coun­tries.” Her­mano Telles Ribeiro, Brazil­ian am­bas­sador to the IMO

the se­cond largest num­ber of ships reg­is­tered.

But he said the eco­nomic gains of pro­tect­ing one sec­tor would be “far out­weighed” by the costs of fail­ing to achieve the lim­its in tem­per­a­ture rise set out in the Paris Agree­ment.

“There will be noth­ing more dev­as­tat­ing to global trade than the cost of hav­ing to try to adapt to a world that is on aver­age two, three or four de­grees warmer,” Mr Paul told del­e­gates.

And he said that the ar­gu­ment that cli­mate ac­tion could un­der­mine eco­nomic growth was “com­pletely and ut­terly false”.

A draft pro­posal for an agree­ment, ne­go­ti­ated dur­ing pre­lim­i­nary ne­go­ti­a­tions last week, came up with a tar­get of cut­ting ship­ping’s emis­sions by 50 per cent by 2050, when com­pared to 2008 lev­els.

Mr Paul said that goal rep­re­sented “sig­nif­i­cant com­pro­mises” for his na­tion and he warned that he would not en­dorse any agree­ment that did not in­clude “an ex­plicit quan­ti­fied level of am­bi­tion”.

“I will not go home to my chil­dren, and my coun­try’s chil­dren, en­dors­ing an out­come from the IMO that fails to face up to the great­est threat of the cen­tury,” he ex­plained.

But a num­ber of coun­tries in­clud­ing Brazil, Panama and Ar­gentina. are re­sist­ing moves to en­shrine a de­tailed tar­get for cut­ting emis­sions, fear­ing that it might jeop­ar­dise im­por­tant sec­tors of their economies.

Brazil ar­gues against fix­ing a goal right now be­cause 90 per cent of its in­ter­na­tional trade is car­ried by ship­ping and be­cause its geo­graphic po­si­tion means it is very dis­tant from ma­jor mar­kets so a limit on emis­sions would be un­fair.

The Brazil­ian am­bas­sador to the IMO, Her­mano Telles Ribeiro, said “We are very mind­ful of the fact that no mea­sure should dis­crim­i­nate against ex­port­ing coun­tries and no mea­sure should even­tu­ally favour other ex­port­ing coun­tries be­cause they are close to their mar­kets and their des­ti­had na­tions.”

There are in­no­va­tions to make en­gines cleaner and de­sign ships to run more smoothly through the wa­ter or op­er­ate at lower speeds to save fuel, with more rad­i­cal plans to use hi-tech sails or bat­tery power, as is al­ready be­ing used on some ferries in Scot­land and Nor­way.

But Lars Robert Ped­er­sem of BIMCO, a ma­jor as­so­ci­a­tion of ship­ping com­pa­nies, said that while the “very long term goal” was de­car­bon­i­sa­tion, ves­sels were typ­i­cally in ser­vice for 20 years so mak­ing changes could be a slow process. He warned that a goal of de­car­bon­is­ing the ship­ping sec­tor by 2035 or by 2050 was un­re­al­is­tic, es­pe­cially given that ship own­ers were cau­tious about new tech­nolo­gies.

He told me: “Ship­ping is a very prac­ti­cal busi­ness — there is no need to set a tar­get which we al­ready now know is im­pos­si­ble to ful­fil.”

The UK gov­ern­ment’s ship­ping min­is­ter Nus­rat Ghani said: “The eyes of the world are upon us in what is a cru­cial week for the fu­ture of the ship­ping in­dus­try and our planet.

“Ship­ping has al­ways been at the fore­front of tech­no­log­i­cal change, and needs a clear sig­nal to in­vest in a zero emis­sions fu­ture.

“I urge all IMO mem­ber states to sup­port the UK in its call for an am­bi­tious and cred­i­ble strat­egy that will open new op­por­tu­ni­ties in green tech­nolo­gies and fu­els and en­sure ship­ping plays its full part in global ef­forts to re­duce green­house gases.”

Although ship­ping was ex­cluded from the Paris Agree­ment, the IMO has since agreed to es­tab­lish a road map to de­car­bon­i­sa­tion and its sec­re­tary gen­eral, Ki­tack Lim, said the or­gan­i­sa­tion now stood “at one of the most his­toric mo­ments” in global ef­forts to com­bat cli­mate change.

No doubt aware of the deep di­vi­sions in the gath­er­ing, he ap­pealed to del­e­gates “to break new ground and to demon­strate the best co-op­er­a­tive spirit….”

Pic­ture: AFP

The ship­ping in­dus­try gen­er­ates more than two per cent of global CO2 emis­sions, and if ranked as a coun­try, it would be the sixth largest emit­ter on the planet.

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