International Maritime Organization Agrees To 50% Carbon Emissions Reductions By 2050 (Compared To 2008 Levels)

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has reached an agreement with constituent countries to put a plan into place to reduce the shipping sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050, as compared to 2008 levels.

The deal follows international talks this week in London between reps from relevant countries. Notably, the final deal seems to mirror the terms being sought by the government of Norway, but is far less than what the Marshall Islands and the European Union had been aiming for. Those parties had reportedly been aiming for carbon emissions reductions of between 70–100% by 2050 (as compared to 2008 levels).

Opposition to such goals was voiced by the USA, Panama, and Saudi Arabia, amongst others. It’s not clear where or who voiced the most opposition to the more stringent plans.

Reuters provides more: “The shipping sector, along with aviation, avoided specific emissions-cutting targets in a global climate pact agreed in Paris at the end of 2015, which aims to limit a global average rise in temperature to ‘well below’ 2 degrees Celsius from 2020…British-based research group InfluenceMap said an emissions cut of 70% would have been ‘much closer to what is needed if shipping is to be in line with the goals of the Paris agreement’.

“Shipping accounts for 2.2% of world CO2 emissions, according to the IMO, the UN agency responsible for regulating pollution from ships. This is around the amount emitted by Germany, according to the latest EU data available, and is predicted to grow significantly if left unchecked. The IMO has adopted mandatory rules for new vessels to boost fuel efficiency as a means of cutting CO2 from ship engines. A final IMO plan is not expected until 2023.”

It should be realized here, of course, that none of this is binding to member states — not for the time being. The “final strategy” is apparently not subject to review until 2028 (tentatively).

That being the case, what does it amount to in practice? Pledges, along the lines of many which have been made before. Also, perhaps some distortion of official figures of some kinds? Perhaps a bit of future fraud?

While the plan discussed above may well end up being the direct cause of some emissions reductions, it’s also essentially without teeth, so don’t be too surprised if nothing much comes from it.

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