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Shipping showdown

7 July, 2023

Today marks the end of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 80), where delegates from the UN’s shipping agency, the IMO, gathered in London for preliminary talks on preventing shipping pollution and implementing a new greenhouse gas strategy across the industry.

In May, we shed light on the shipping industry’s contribution to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and the role ports play in this. Whilst we touched upon the negative impact ship crisscrossing has on our oceans, the onset of this week’s summit has reinforced the scale of the problem.

The global shipping industry is responsible for transporting nine-tenths of our goods around the world and accounts for at least 2.5% of the world’s total GHG emissions. And yet the IMO doesn’t have a goal for cutting emissions to ‘net-zero’.

Hence the importance of this conference – as it is expected to set a new timeline on decarbonising the industry, by updating its current target of halving shipping emissions by 2050, from 2008 levels. The decisions made at the MEPC 80 summit have the potential to shape the future of the shipping industry’s environmental impact.

Observers have noted that if the London meeting can agree on new, ambitious goals for shipping (such as Maersk’s “bullish” approach by targeting zero emissions by 2040), it could be the biggest advancement against climate change since the Paris agreement.

As the summit wraps up, the shipping industry stands at a crucial crossroads. With its immense contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, ambitious targets, and the promotion of investments in green technologies are needed. Decisions made now will determine if the industry can truly navigate towards a low-carbon future.

We’ll be keeping tabs…

By Bertie Bateman

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