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Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting resulted in deadlock


International Maritime Organisation (IMO) further delays emissions reduction plan

It was no surprise to industry observers that the recently concluded MEPC meeting had minimal results. Among the discussions delayed to 2022 was the proposal to create a US$5 billion research and development fund to find the right technology to meet the targets.

Precarious move
The IMO and its member states’ decision not to revise its emissions reduction strategy until spring of 2023 was deemed dangerous by environmental campaigners. At the IMO-convened MEPC meeting, Secretary-General Kitack Lim told delegates: “The world is watching us.” Hideaki Saito (MEPC’s Japan Chair) appealed to all sectors to ramp up efforts in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Saito noted the committee recognised the need to strengthen IMO’s ambition to half international greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by 2050. The strategy, unfortunately, fell short of what is needed to remain in line with the Paris agreement.

Surprisingly, not everyone disagreed with the conclusion. Dr Lucy Gilliam, shipping policy officer at Seas At Risk felt it was a minuscule progress. She remarked, “It is not enough. We have 10 years to bring emissions down and need to half emissions by 2030. To spend two years thinking about revising a strategy – is this incredibly tiny step a valid response to the climate crisis? We are not in climate denial but the delay is dangerous.” John Maggs, President of the Clean Shipping Coalition, added that sticking to the Paris target of 1.5°C capped temperature rise required immediate deep emission cuts. Delaying essentially translated to losing the effect of two years’ of ambition.

Many United Nations’ (UN) member states had committed to tighter reductions in their shipping sectors. At COP26, a coalition of countries including the United Kingdom, United States, France, Germany, Panama, and the Marshall Islands, signed a declaration committed to strengthening global efforts to reach net-zero on shipping emissions by 2050. The European Union also committed to a reduction under its “fit for 55” target to cut shipping emissions by 55 per cent by 2030. Under the proposed law, shipping companies will need to pay for the carbon they emit travelling to and from the EU and between EU ports by 2026.


Marine Online Media Team
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