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Many GHG policy specifics to firm up ahead of MEPC 80

IMO/Flickr IMO_HQ_London_Seafarer.jpg
The latest IMO meeting on decarbonisation ended with plenty of unanswered questions, but there are ‘important clues’ as to the direction of regulation at the IMO.

With one more meeting of the IMO’s Intersessional Working Group on Greenhouse Gases (ISWG-GHG) remaining before the crucial Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) 80 meeting in July, clues are beginning to emerge as to the shape of the Revised GHG Reduction Strategy, according to UMAS.

While shipping organisations have expressed their disappointment at the lack of progress at ISWG-GHG 14, the meeting was not a decision point for policy or strategy; most of that action is to come at MEPC 80.

Dr Aly Shaw, Policy Lead at UMAS said: “This meeting marked a growing clarity on likely ambition for 2050 and also 2040, which is a positive sign for an equitable transition which, at its core, requires targets aligned with limiting temperature rise to 1.5 or below. However, despite the repeated support across meetings for a just and equitable transition that leaves none behind - there is little sign of this commitment being embedded throughout the revised strategy as of yet.”

Dr Tristan Smith, Director of UMAS said: “It is hard to overstate how important the MEPC 80 outcomes will be both for society’s efforts to avoid dangerous climate change, but also for the shipping sector. Reading from the numbers of how many support high ambition outcomes, there are positive signs. But this is a simplistic way to estimate how these debates will conclude. The nature of the off-IMO debate leading up to MEPC 80 is therefore crucial.”

UMAS said that progress was made on clearing up and clarifying non-contentious parts of the IMO Revised Strategy on GHG Emissions, including refining the options that will be discussed in July.

Of 45 speakers, 31 said that that international shipping needs to hit zero emissions by 2050 without the use of offsets outside of shipping, said UMAS.

“To help stimulate the uptake of new fuels, there was broad support for a fuel use target (5% by 2030), albeit with no agreement on the subset of fuels this would be applied to: low carbon/zero carbon/zero GHG/near-zero GHG,” said UMAS.

There was support from a majority of countries on defining a 2040 GHG reduction target in-line with the 1.5 degree temperature target, they said.

Emissions reductions should be brought about by a technical and an economic element within policies aimed at supporting the transition, said nearly all of the countries. ‘Significant ambiguity’ remained as to how the economic part of the policy would enable a just and equitable transition, despite the objective having broad support.

“Therefore, much of the specifics remains undecided as we head towards MEPC80 with only one intersessional meeting left (the week before MEPC 80) to bring the group to agreement on the levels of ambition/GHG targets, both magnitude of reductions, and scope (well-to-wake/tank-to-wake), the objectives and timing on the finalisation and entry into force of mid-term measures, and the specifics of how just and equitable transition will be expressed in the strategy, and in the specification of the measures used to achieve the transition,” said UMAS.

Guy Platten, the Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping, said after IMO ISWG-GHG 14: "We are disappointed by the lack of progress on setting new levels of ambition for GHG reductions to provide shipping with a clear net zero target for 2050. But we remain optimistic that a deal can still be stuck at the crucial MEPC meeting in July.

“More positively, governments are increasingly understanding the value of the ICS Fund and Reward proposal to accelerate the production and uptake of low and zero-carbon fuels."

Anne H. Steffensen, Director General and CEO of Danish Shipping, said: "We can only achieve our ambitious goals if we use all the tools at our disposal. Therefore, I am pleased that the majority of nations now recognise the need for both economic and technical measures in the forthcoming greenhouse gas strategy."