It’s full speed ahead for shipping industry’s dramatic global GHG plan

IMO aims to slash industry emissions by at least 50% by 2050

For the first time, the international shipping industry is steaming toward meaningful greenhouse gas emission reductions.

In April 2018, the International Maritime Organization announced that it is aiming to cut the industry’s global carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2050, following a new international agreement.

“The world’s shipping industry has now, for the first time, defined its commitment to tackle climate change, bringing it closer in-line with the Paris agreement,” Dr. Tristan Smith, a shipping expert at University College London, told The Independent.

The shipping industry accounts for 2% of the world’s CO2 emissions—a share that eclipses international aviation. A study by non-profit International Council on Clean Transportation suggests that if the international shipping industry were a country, it would the world’s sixth largest CO2 emitter.

Observers suggest that such an ambitious target would require a significant shift away from fossil fuels. The IMO itself says “the global introduction of alternative fuels and/or energy sources for international shipping will be integral to achieve the overall ambition.”

More than 170 countries were represented during wide-ranging talks in London for two weeks prior to the IMO announcement. According to The Independent, the government of the United Kingdom encouraged the industry to abandon fossil fuels entirely in the next three decades. A February report prepared for government found that air pollution from UK shipping is four times the level previously surmised.

“Like Apollo 11 returning to Earth, we knew we needed to land and we did,” said Sveinung Oftedal, chair of the IMO’s greenhouse gas negotiation, as quoted by The Independent.

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