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IMO may fall short of a 1.5-aligned strategy

IMO/Flickr IMO_HQ_London_Seafarer.jpg
As MEPC 80 gets underway in London, concerns have been raised over the tone set during the preceding ISWG GHG meeting.

At the halfway point in a crucial two weeks for the future of carbon emission regulations for the global maritime industry, concerns have been raised over the amount of work left to do, and the details of some of the texts prepared by the fifteenth Intersessional Working Group on Greenhouse Gases (ISWG GHG 15) last week (June 26-30).

ISWG GHG was tasked with narrowing many of the details of the IMO’s revised GHG strategy before its adoption at MEPC 80 (July 3–7).

Specific concerns from ISWG GHG were around the interim GHG reductions targets to be included in the revised strategy. According to consultancy UMAS, those targets are now proposed to be called “indicative checkpoints” and the most popular levels at ISWG GHG were a 20% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 and 70% by 2040.

“If these numbers solidify in the strategy, it will not be possible to say the IMO’s GHG reduction strategy is directly or transparently aligned with the 1.5 temperature goal” UMAS said in a media release.

The Clean Shipping Coalition said MEPC must add to the IMO revised strategy a clear 50% reduction target for 2030 and zero target for 2040 to keep emissions on track for a 1.5°C temperature pathway.

“While there was widespread support in the room for a target of zero-emission by 2050, this on its own would not be enough to prevent a global temperature rise beyond 1.5°C. Yet, even the 2050 target could now be downgraded from zero to net-zero leaving the door wide open to out of sector offsetting,” said the Clean Shipping Coalition.

UMAS said that ISWG GHG 15 made little headway, narrowing down the options but leaving large ranges open on key parameters.

ISWG GHG 15 prepared a shortlist of mid-term measures for IMO to consider and take forward.

“Although there was significant and coordinated opposition to the levy proposals moving forwards for finalisation from MEPC 80, there was a majority who supported this to happen, and GHG pricing is currently on track to move forwards,” said UMAS.

Reuters and the Financial Times have reported that China is pushing back on climate action at the IMO. The outlets report a diplomatic note was sent to developing nations alleging that developed nations were pushing unrealistic levels ambition at IMO.

Faig Abbasov, Transport & Environment, said: “By removing any explicit reference to 1.5ºC and gutting out the 2030, 2040 and even 2050 targets, the IMO would essentially recognise that its revised strategy is not 1.5ºC compliant. If they think that they could fool the whole world with this, they should think twice.”

Speaking at the opening of MEPC 80 at IMO Headquarters in London, secretary general Kitack Lim said: “This is a historic moment in which all of you have a role to play. The 2023 IMO GHG Strategy will be your legacy, for which your children and grandchildren will be grateful. The time for IMO to demonstrate its global leadership is now.”