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Reducing CO2 : A ‘Paris agreement for Shipping’

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In April 2018, the United Nations (UN)’s International Maritime Organization(IMO) adopted a ground breaking strategy setting very high levels of ambition to phase out CO2 emissions across the sector, including a 50% total cut by 2050.

International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is confident that new technology will eventually deliver, whether using fuel cells or batteries powered by renewable energy, new fuels such as hydrogen, or some other solution not yet anticipated. These exciting possibilities are explored elsewhere in this Annual Review.

Meanwhile, the shipping industry and its global regulator, IMO, have a good story to tell with respect to reducing CO2 emissions and the mitigation of dangerous climate change.

Most importantly, in April 2018, the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) adopted a comprehensive initial strategy for the further reduction of the international shipping sector’s total CO2 emissions, as a response to the Paris Agreement on climate change. In view of the complex politics involved, agreement by IMO upon such an ambitious strategy is a truly significant achievement. But the huge challenge that lies ahead will be for industry to successfully deliver.

According to the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), the total CO2 emissions from international shipping were about 8% lower in 2015 than in 2008, despite a 30% increase in maritime trade. Delivered with a combination of technical and operational measures – including improved speed management and the introduction of innovative technologies – this is an impressive level of total emissions reduction, especially as shipping has no control over the ever increasing demand for its services.

Moreover, as a result of amendments to Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention, adopted by IMO in 2011 – the first such global agreement to apply to an entire industrial sector – new ships delivered from 2025 must be at least 30% more CO2 efficient than ships constructed before 2013.

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