UK shipping industry demands net-zero by 2050

A fully loaded container ship heading toward the Port of Houston from the Gulf of Mexico.

In a landmark decision, announced at the beginning of London International Shipping Week, the UK shipping industry has agreed that the international shipping sector must pursue a net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050.

International regulations require the global shipping industry to cut their emissions by 50% compared to 2008 levels. But the UK Chamber of Shipping has now confirmed it wants the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to double this target and commit to net-zero emissions by 2050.

The shipping industry currently contributes around 2.4% of global greenhouse gases each year whilst moving about 90% of world trade and 95% of UK goods.

Welcoming the call for net-zero emissions from the UK Chamber of Shipping, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The UK is taking a leadership position in decarbonising all forms of transport, including Maritime, where we have led the world globally for many hundreds of years. 

“To build back both better and greener, we must work side by side with the industry and I warmly welcome the UK Chamber of Shipping’s decisive push in driving forward the transition to net-zero international shipping and trade by 2050.”

Tackling climate change has been a key priority for Chamber Chief Executive Bob Sanguinetti who said: “At the UK Chamber of Shipping we want to be at the forefront of the green agenda and now is the time to call for radical action. The aim of cutting shipping’s emissions by 50% just doesn’t go far enough. We need to show the world we mean business and it is imperative that the IMO commits to a net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050.

“With COP26 only a short time away, the world needs to come together and deliver real change for the future of our planet. The shipping industry is one of the cleanest ways of moving goods around the world, but we know we need to do more to cut our emissions.

“We can’t kick the can down the road anymore. We need real action at international level, and we will work with our partners within the IMO to pursue the target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

The UK Government recently published its Sixth Carbon Budget which included shipping for the first time and the recent Transport Decarbonisation Plan called for shipping to reach net-zero by 2050.

However, this has not been agreed at an international level and the UK Chamber of Shipping is now calling on the IMO to take drastic action and commit to a net-zero target.

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