‘Vague and non-committal’: MEPC green targets text comes in for fierce criticism

‘Vague and non-committal’: MEPC green targets text comes in for fierce criticism

Splash247.com — 2023-07-07

Maritime and Ports

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has agreed on a revised strategy to decarbonise the global shipping industry. The agreement will be formally adopted today but no further changes are expected by delegates. The loose wording in the near finalised document doing the rounds at IMO headquarters will disappoint many Western nations and environmentalists who had been pushing for more firm commitments from this week’s 80th gathering of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC). 

Countries have agreed on so-called indicative checkpoints of reducing emissions by at least 20%, and striving for 30%, by 2030 compared to 2008 levels, and at least 70%, striving for 80%, by 2040, reaching net-zero “by or around, i.e., close to 2050”, qualified by whether “national circumstances allow”.

The Pacific Island countries, supported by Canada, the US, the UK, fought hard this week for a 1.5°C- aligned action, but were opposed by China, Brazil, Argentina and others. 

A global carbon price, supported by over 70 developing and developed countries, has been moved forward as an economic measure under the IMO’s basket of measures, and will be up for further investigation and debate at future MEPCs.

Splash will be bringing readers full details of the agreed outcome from MEPC on Monday, 10 July 2023, as debate is expected to carry on late on 7 July 2023.

In the meantime, the text which has been circulated at the IMO in the past couple of days has drawn predictable ire from many NGOs.

John Maggs, president of the Clean Shipping Coalition described the deal as a “wish and a prayer agreement” full of “vague and non-committal” language. 

The most vulnerable put up an admirable fight for high ambition and significantly improved the agreement but we are still a long way from the IMO treating the climate crisis with the urgency that it deserves and that the public demands,” Maggs said. 

Also not mincing his words was Faïg Abbasov, shipping programme director at Transport & Environment, who commented: “Aside from FIFA, it’s hard to think of an international organisation more useless than the IMO. This week’s climate talks were reminiscent of rearranging the deckchairs on a sinking ship.

Abbasov said regional and national green shipping initiatives were now the way ahead. 

Ambitious national policies and green shipping lanes can have a global impact. It’s time to think globally, act locally,” Abbasov said.

Daniele Rao from Carbon Market Watch added: “The way the International Maritime Organisation has watered down its climate ambition will sink the shipping sector’s chances of meeting its Paris Agreement commitments. Due to this historic failure, we need ambitious countries and blocs to chart their own course and set carbon levies at national and regional level of at least $100 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Madeline Rose, deputy executive director at Pacific Environment, the revised green strategy agreed this week will see the shipping industry exhaust its 1.5oC carbon budget by 2032.