Shipping lobby group advises caution on climate targets – DNyuz

Shipping lobby group advises caution on climate targets

An influential shipping industry group has quietly warned shippers to think carefully before they sign up for a new plan to reduce pollution and eventually eliminate their contribution to climate change.

The International Chamber of Shipping, which represents nearly four-fifths of all commercial shipping fleets in the world, has committed itself to the Paris Agreement’s goal to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.. “Talk is cheap, action is difficult,” chairman Esben Poulsson said at the time.

A confidential document, obtained by The Associated Press in March shows that the International Chamber of Shipping told its national branches to “consider carefully the implications” of a new plan for reducing maritime emissions.

Under the plan, shipping companies will declare all their vessels with their emissions, inputting them into a new software tool. This includes all pollution, from the oil-well to the engine, according to Jean-Marc Bonello a naval architect with UMAS. The for-profit consultancy was launched by University College London experts who designed the tool. Shippers will then have to improve efficiency or use cleaner fuel to reduce their emissions 60% by 2036.

Shipping accounts for almost 3% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the International Maritime Organization. A report by the European Parliament warned that this share could rise dramatically in the next few years.

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has drawn up plans tailored to numerous industries including chemicals, oil and gas and aviation. The partnership is between several non-profits and United Nations Global Compact initiative, launched by U.N. secretary general. The maritime SBTi, published last fall, says the shipping industry must cut its emissions 45% by 2030 to keep on track with Paris goals which try to limit total temperature rises to 1. 5 degrees Celsius (2. 7 degrees Fahrenheit).

Stuart Neil, director of communications for the International Chamber of Shipping, said in a phone interview the group acted after some of its member companies asked how the system would affect their businesses. He said that the group did not want to scare off shipping companies, and pointed out another part of the memo which states the importance of the targets. The group was simply concerned about shipping companies signing on without proper analysis. He said that the proposal must be carefully considered.

One objection of the industry lobby group is that the target would force shippers to count their indirect emissions, including those produced while making marine fuels, and doesn’t take into account that more energy gets used navigating in bad weather.

Responding to the claim the group was reluctant to act, Neil said it had put forward various decarbonization proposals of its own. It has suggested a $5 billion research and development fund to accelerate decarbonization, and calling on the International Maritime Organization to up its net-zero-by-2050 ambitions.

But marine climate activists are angry.

John Maggs, shipping policy director at Seas At Risk and president of the Clean Shipping Coalition, said by email that the SBTi plan was the “absolute minimum” to keep warming below 1. 5 degrees.

“Without immediate action and deep cuts before 2030, the task becomes almost impossible without significant industry disruption.”

The group has “always been the least ambitious, lowest common denominator ship industry actor,” Maggs said, “and the thought that they might actually have to do something significant soon horrifies them.”

A target thirty years in the future is not sufficient, Maggs warned, something echoed by scientists and international agencies. It is necessary to set targets for 2040 and 2030. He said more research and development is not needed, because technology and knowledge to clean up shipping already exists.

For example, a 10% reduction in speed would lead to a 27% decline in emissions, he said. Hybrid ships that run on a combination of wind power and marine fuels could also dramatically cut emissions. Ships retrofitted with sails might save 10-30% in emissions, he said, and ships built to be cleaner from the start could save 50-70%. Eight vessels are currently under construction or being designed that could achieve such reductions, he said.

Michael Prehn is a diplomat for the Solomon Islands, which is urging the International Maritime Organisation to adopt the SBTi targets. Pacific Islands are the most affected by rising sea levels. Prehn agreed the SBTi targets were the bare minimum to keep global warming to 1. 5 C.

“We often hear from various industries they want to do something that is ‘feasible,'” he said. “Usually not feasible just means very expensive.”

If nothing changes it will result in a climate catastrophe devastating to the lives of Pacific islanders, he warned. We’ve had storms that are more intense than ever before. If there’s no transition, we are going to drown, or have to move the population somewhere else.”

Bonello of the maritime consultancy called the lobby group’s action shortsighted. He said the evidence shows the plans are realistic and achievable.

“Watering it down is a dangerous strategy,” he added.

But Neil said the science-based targets will definitely have an effect on business operations.

“We do not want companies to sign up to an initiative on a PR basis.”


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