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Global shipping industry welcomes COP21 climate change agreement

Global shipping industry welcomes COP21 climate change agreement
The global shipping industry, represented by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) throughout the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21), welcomed the ‘Paris Agreement’, adopted unanimously on Saturday by 195 nations.

The shipping industry remains committed to ambitious CO2 emission reduction across the entire world merchant fleet, reducing CO2 per tonne-km by at least 50% before 2050 compared to 2007.
Despite the absence of an explicit reference to shipping, ICS said the message from the world’s governments is clear. 'I am sure IMO member states will now proceed with new momentum to help the industry deliver ever greater CO2 reductions, as the world moves towards total decarbonisation by the end of the Century,' said ICS secretary general, Peter Hinchliffe.

Environmental groups had been pushing hard for the inclusion of emissions targets for both shipping and aviation in the COP21 agreement. The shipping and aviation industries had been included in an earlier draft but were dropped last week.

Today, ICS said it will engage in discussions at IMO – expected to begin in April 2016 – about the possibility of agreeing a CO2 reduction target for shipping. ICS is also pushing for IMO to finalise a global CO2 data collection system for ships, which ICS would like to see mandatory as soon as possible, prior to IMO deciding on the necessity of additional actions such as a developing a market based measure.   

ICS asserted dramatic CO2 reductions from shipping will only be guaranteed if further regulation continues to be led by IMO.

As a result of the Paris Agreement, developing nations such as China and India have now accepted responsibility to curb their emissions alongside developed economies. However, the Paris Agreement still retains the principle of ‘differentiation’ whereby different parties can offer different levels of commitment to reduce CO2.

'CO2 is a global problem and shipping is a global industry,' said Hinchliffe. 'IMO is the only forum which can take account of the UN principle of "differentiation" while requiring all ships to apply the same CO2 reduction measures, regardless of their flag state. Unilateral or regional regulation would be disastrous for shipping and disastrous for global CO2 reduction, whereas IMO is already helping shipping to deliver substantial CO2 reductions on a global basis.'

ICS said the complexity and scale of the Paris Agreement means many of those involved may be disappointed by certain aspects, including the absence of explicit text referring to international shipping.

At the start of the negotiation, ICS had hoped there might have been an acknowledgment of the importance of IMO continuing to develop further CO2 reduction measures, applicable to all internationally trading ships, and implemented and enforced in a uniform and global manner.