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European Parliament report calls for CO2 reduction targets for shipping
Green campaigners have called shipping the “elephant in the room”

European Parliament report calls for CO2 reduction targets for shipping

A report, prepared for the European Parliament (EP), has recommended that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reductions targets should be set for international shipping.

The report estimated that, due to trade growth, international shipping’s share of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions may rise from around 3% to 17% by 2050 if left unregulated, a share of emissions equivalent to that of the United States of America in 2011.

The report recognised that, in recent years at least, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has made some progress on initiatives to limit greenhouse gas emissions such as adopting the energy efficiency design index and ship energy efficiency management plan in 2011.

However, it said these measures were adopted too late and are insufficient, as they will merely limit the growth of shipping’s carbon emissions, not reverse it. This would not be enough for the industry to play its part in keeping the world’s temperature from rising by more than two degrees celsius, the report said.

The report, which was prepared by the Öko-Institut for the EP’s committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, also criticised the fact that there have been no plans to establish global legally binding absolute caps on shipping’s greenhouse gas emissions, let alone implement emission reduction targets.

The Marshall Islands attempted to get the IMO to launch the process for the establishment of a CO2 emissions target in March 2015 but the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee decided to discuss this at a future meeting and focus instead on the finalisation of a data collection system.

To keep global temperature rises below two degrees celsius, the report said shipping should reduce its CO2 emissions from 2005 levels by 13% by 2030 and 63% by 2050. “Establishing reduction targets for both sectors would provide clear signals for all actors in these sectors and thus contribute to improving investment perspectives in both sectors with their long investment cycles.”

It is unlikely, the report said, that these targets can be met with technological and operational improvements within the sectors only. Therefore, behavioural changes which reduce demand for international transport services should be encouraged. On top of this, aviation and shipping should finance emission reductions in other sectors.

The report said that the shipping and aviation industries are well-advanced and highly industrialised and should be bound by emissions reduction targets like all other economic sectors.

As well as CO2, shipping also produces nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions which lead to cloud formations which have a warming effect on the climate.

The report comes ahead of global COP21 talks on climate change in Paris in December 2015.