Shipping Emissions Under Existing Targets Will Be Double What’s Needed To Meet Paris Agreement Goals


New research from The University of Manchester shows that the current climate targets set for the international shipping are far too lax, and would mean the sector cannot play its fair part in meeting the Paris climate goals.

In the run-up to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has strongly criticised the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for not doing enough to cut carbon emissions from the shipping sector. International shipping alone has emissions the size of Germany. But progress is very slow.

Current IMO targets see no emissions reductions for the sector before 2030, and would lead to shipping emitting more than double the emissions compatible with limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees.

The new research published today in the journal, Climate Policy, concludes that significantly stronger short and longer-term targets need to be set for the sector to be compatible with the Paris Agreement’s goals: 34% reductions on 2008 emissions levels by 2030, and zero emissions before 2050, compared with the sector’s existing target of a 50% cut in CO2 by 2050. Crucially, strengthening the target by the IMO’s 2023 strategy revision date is imperative.

Professor Alice Larkin argues that the longer the delay in setting new targets, the steeper subsequent decarbonisation trajectories. “It has to be all hands on deck for international shipping now. Immediate action that focuses on operational change and retrofitting existing ships is needed to deliver major emissions reductions this decade, or shipping cannot deliver its fair part in meeting the Paris climate goals” she said.

“Delay beyond 2023 would mean the future transition for international shipping is too rapid to be feasible. Nations should state at COP26 that they will ensure shipping has Paris-compatible targets and policies for 2030 and 2050.”

At COP 26 this November, countries are being asked to bring more ambitious climate targets for 2030, called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), to bring the world on track to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees.

The Manchester based researchers are calling on nations to push the IMO to make a clear statement during this COP26 year that shipping must have Paris compatible targets.

The results of this research state that this pressure needs to be translated into actual movement from the IMO with regard to their climate action. New targets, and policies to meet them, cannot wait.

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