Shipping industry needs to show higher ambition at COP26



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The international shipping industry needs to target zero emissions before 2050 and 34% reduction on 2008 emissions levels by 2030 to be compatible with Paris Agreement goals, according to a new study led by Tyndall Centre’s Simon Bullock, James Mason, and Alice Larkin.

International shipping is overwhelmingly reliant on fossil fuels, with annual carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to a country the size of Germany. Actions to reduce the industry’s emissions are therefore important to combat climate change.

The Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming to 2C above pre-industrial levels while pursuing efforts to keep below 1.5C. Countries submit their Nationally Determined Contributions to set out their plans to meet these goals. However, the shipping industry is excluded in this process and it wasn’t until 2018 that the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) set out an initial emissions reductions strategy.

According to this strategy, the IMO sets a target of total annual greenhouse gas emissions reductions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels. The research shows that international shipping emissions under the current IMO targets are twice as high as a Paris-compliant carbon budget. Keeping within a Paris-compliant carbon budget will therefore require the IMO to move beyond the ‘at least 50% reduction by 2050’ in its initial strategy. This means that their targets must be twice as ambitious.

Additionally, major international strategies tend to not deliver immediate results. This means that the IMO should be introducing stronger measures and setting the groundwork for stronger targets well before 2023.

“If the shipping sector is to play its fair part in meeting the Paris Agreement goals, then it is imperative and urgent that the IMO strengthens its existing targets,” said Simon.

“COP26 in November 2021 is an opportunity for the shipping sector to signal its intent to strengthen its targets,” Simon added.


Read the full research paper here.


More resources on shipping:

Here is a video narrated by James Mason on the shipping industry and what it needs to do to align with the Paris Agreement:

Here is a podcast with Alice Larkin to explain more about shipping:

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