In a letter sent to US President Joe Biden on World Maritime Day, 32 organisations have called for an Executive Order to decarbonise maritime shipping.
While the Biden Administration can achieve many of these commitments through legislation, the organisations said: “There are critical actions that could be taken immediately through executive action.”
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced a revised greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction plan for global shipping in July, and while it is an improvement over the previous strategy, it still falls short of the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees Celsius warming limit targets.
According to the groups’ letter, an Executive Order with precise time-bound initiatives will open up possibilities and innovation for reducing emissions, while keeping the US shipping industry on a 1.5 degrees Celsius path.
GHG and air pollutant emissions from ships and ports pose serious health concerns to portside communities.
According to the Pacific Environment, these emissions are projected to cause approximately 250,000 premature deaths and 6 million instances of children asthma worldwide each year.
An Executive Order is expected to safeguard port communities by lowering harmful health dangers while simultaneously generating good-paying union employment in sustainable businesses and ensuring marine worker training.
This executive action would thus be consistent with the administration’s own Justice40 effort to assist disadvantaged and polluted neighbourhoods.
Furthermore, the shipping sector is reportedly the leading cause of underwater noise pollution in the ocean, which hurts a wide range of sea creatures, from invertebrates to large whales.
Ships’ underwater noise emissions have been increasing every decade, paralleling the increase in the number and size of the worldwide fleet.
An Executive Order would coordinate research and investments in fuels and technology to allow clean and quiet shipping.
The organisations encourage President Biden to sign this Executive Order in advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in December 2023.