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Shipping falling short of multiple decarbonisation trajectories

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Charterer data shows shipping falling short of climate trajectories for the Paris Agreement, the IMO’s striving targets, and its minimum targets to reach net zero in 2050.

Data reported by charterers and operators to the Sea Cargo Charter (SCC) showed their activities were 16.9% off alignment with the minimum trajectory set out in the IMO’s 2023 GHG Strategy and 21.9% off the strategy’s striving trajectory.

The IMO set targets in 2023 to reduce total annual GHG emissions from shipping by at least 20% by 2030 compared to 2008 levels, striving for 30%. By 2040, the total GHG emissions should be at least 70% lower, striving for 80%. Both IMO trajectories are themselves not aligned with the Paris Agreement’s target of limited global warming to 1.5°C.

Of the 35 signatories covered in the 2023 figures, two were aligned with the IMO’s striving and minimum trajectories. Breaking down fleets by vessel segment, the three sizes of oil tankers from 80,000 dwt to 200,000 and over were the only segments across SCC data to come in under alignment for the minimum trajectory, and no vessel segments were aligned with striving.

SCC signatories represent around 20% of bulk cargo transported by sea each year, across dry and liquid bulk.

The latest SCC Annual Disclosure Report was the first since the framework aligned its ambitions with the IMO’s 2023 GHG Strategy of reaching net zero by 2050. Previous editions were measured against the path to reaching a 50% reduction in emissions by 2050. Reporting also shifted from a tank-to-wake approach to well-to-wake, and added GHG emissions other than CO2.

Commenting on their 2023 performance, SCC signatories said the change in trajectories in the latest report underlined the strong ambition at IMO, and stressed the important of transparency and benchmarking in reducing emissions.

“Despite the year-on-year Energy Efficiency Operating Indicator (EEOI) improvements of our fleet, we’re still misaligned to the SCC trajectories, illustrating the immense task of truly decarbonising the maritime industry and meeting the IMO’s targets. We remain committed to collaborating with partners, to exploring new technologies and to preparing for future scale up,” said Eman Abdalla, Global Operations Director, Cargill Ocean Transport.

“We are rather proud of the 7% EEOI improvement we achieved last year, especially in the light of the fact that fuel prices were on average close to 30% lower in 2023 than in 2022. Despite this commercial incentive to speed up vessels, making the voyages less carbon efficient as a result, our shipping operation became in fact more carbon efficient!” said Jeff Wakker, Chief Operating Officer at Viterra Chartering.

The 2024 Sea Cargo Charter Annual Disclosure Report is available online.