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Push for IMO to set ‘ambitious’ climate goals for shipping

Photo: Marcus Hand IMO sec-gen speaking at opening of Singapore Maritime Week
International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Kitack Lim has called member states to be “ambitious and bold” in deciding an upgraded strategy for decarbonising the shipping industry.

The IMO is set to adopt a revised greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions strategy from the MEPC (Marine Environment Protection Committee) 80 meeting in July with increasingly intense lobbying by countries that want to see a commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 versus others that want a more conservative strategy.

“I believe that as they debate, the new strategy IMO member states must be ambitious and bold enough to elevate their vision and their levels of ambitions towards 2050,” Secretary-General Lim told attendees at the opening ceremony of Singapore Maritime Week (SMW) on Monday.

“We must lead the way and provide a global framework for the maritime industry to strive for green shipping and at the same time, we must ensure we leave no-one behind.”

In a video address to the SMW opening ceremony, John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, said, “There is no path to eliminate global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius without achieving zero emissions from the shipping sector. So this the year that all of efforts can really come together and build the momentum that we need. In July the International Maritime Organization (IMO) must revise its greenhouse gas strategy to include a goal of zero emissions no later than 2050 and that has to be the North Star for climate ambition for this sector.”

Singapore’s Transport Minister S Iwaran stated in a speech to the event, “Singapore supports a significant strengthening of the level of ambition for 2050 in the Revised Strategy. This is in line with our support for international shipping to do its part, to help keep the Paris Agreement global warming target of 1.5 degrees C within reach.

“We stand ready to work with member states to revise the ambition of the Initial Strategy and achieve a mutually agreed outcome by July 2023.”

Danish Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs Morten Bødskov said that from a Danish point of view there is no doubt that nations need to do more reduce GHG emissions from shipping.

“We must set ambitious goals because we need to reduce the challenge we are facing, and we must do much more to reach the goals set out in the Paris Agreement,” he said in panel discussion following the IMO Secretary-General’s speech.

Taking part in the same panel discussion Vidar Ulriksen, Vice Minister from the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, stated simply, “Doing nothing is the only option we don’t have.”