The shipping industry needs a clear policy signal from IMO to begin its transition to sustainable growth, according to David Paul, environment minister of the climate-vulnerable Marshall Islands.
Speaking at the opening of the 72nd Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting in London, Paul said the economic gains from protecting the shipping industry will be outweighed by the costs of failing to adhere to the Paris Agreement.
“There will be nothing more devastating to global trade than the cost of having to try to adapt to a world that is on average two, three or four degrees warmer,” he explained. "The costs will dwarf any perceived savings. We do not even know if we can adapt to any scenarios over two degrees. No country will be immune.”
IMO’s Intersessional Working Group on greenhouse gas reduction met last week to develop a draft initial strategy on shipping emissions, which MEPC delegates are expected to adopt this Friday, 13 April.
However, talks have not gone smoothly thus far, with NGO Transport & Environment reporting that a vocal minority of developing and flag states have attempted to block progress.
“Clear warnings from delegates from climate-vulnerable South Pacific nations that effective IMO action is a prerequisite for their countries’ survival fell on deaf ears,” said Transport & Environment’s shipping director, Bill Hemmings. “There is a danger that calls for differentiated action and to buy time will see off any likelihood of urgent action.”
The government of New Zealand has also released a statement urging IMO member states to adopt credible and ambitious emissions reduction targets this week.
“The IMO strategy also needs to recognize and protect the interests of Pacific Island countries and territories,” said the country’s minister for climate change, James Shaw.
“In particular, this means helping to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.”