ICS: Govs Must Compromise to Hit Shipping CO2 Targets


The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has said that governments must compromise to help IMO pass an ambitious strategy for reducing CO2 emissions by shipping that will match the expectations of the Paris Agreement on climate change. 

Ahead of critical meetings at the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO), which commence on April 3, 2018, ICS Chairman, Esben Poulsson, said: “Governments on all sides of the debate are going to need to show far more willingness to compromise on their current positions or put at risk an agreement on a meaningful strategy. 

“This would greatly undermine the authority of IMO and the future sustainability of the shipping industry.”

In a briefing note to its member national shipowners’ associations, ICS suggested that if IMO was to set an initial objective of cutting the sector’s total CO2 emissions by 50% rather than 70 to 100%, this would still require a major improvement in ship efficiency over ‘business as usual’. 

When the anticipated maritime trade growth is considered, ICS has found that this is still only possible with the widespread use of zero CO2 fuels.

Poulsson added: “Agreement upon a mid-century objective for the total reduction of CO2 emissions by the sector, regardless of trade growth, will be vital to discourage unilateral action and to provide the signal needed to stimulate the development of zero CO2 fuels.

“But the very high level of ambition proposed by certain EU Member States – a 70 to 100% total cut in emissions before 2050 – is unlikely to achieve consensus support.” 

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In advance of zero CO2 fuels becoming available globally, the industry has also proposed that IMO should adopt the following objectives: 

  • Objective 1 – to maintain international shipping’s annual total CO2 emissions below 2008 levels
  • Objective 2 – to reduce CO2 emissions per tonne-km, as an average across international shipping, by at least 50% by 2050, compared to 2008
  • Objective 3 – reduce international shipping's total annual CO2 emissions by an agreed percentage by 2050, compared to 2008, as a point on a continuing trajectory of CO2 emissions reduction


ICS and other industry associations have previously proposed the need for an ambitious vision in the IMO strategy, making it clear that the ultimate goal is the elimination of all CO2 emissions from international shipping, which is forecasted for between 2050 and 2100, or as soon as there is worldwide availability of zero CO2 fuels.

Poulsson remarked: “While ICS does not fully agree with them in every respect, alternative proposals made by China and Japan merit serious consideration and could form the basis of a possible compromise. 

“China in particular seems to have made a real effort to move away from its previous opposition to establishing CO2 reduction goals for the sector’s total emissions.

“If EU nations want a global agreement they should acknowledge this by similarly modifying their own positions.

“A mid-century objective similar to that proposed by Japan – which might also enjoy support from nations like China if EU nations were willing to compromise – would still provide a compelling signal to the industry. 

“This should also be sufficient to stimulate the development of zero CO2 fuels leading to a 100 percent CO2 reduction in line with the ambitious vision which IMO must agree.”   

Read more: Total and CMA CGM have signed an agreement covering the supply of around 300,000 tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) a year for 10 years starting in 2020

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